A place for lOst sOuls

A self initiated project

Today India is facing many issues one among them is unclaimed bodies in hospitals from road, train accidents and suspicious murders given the increase in number of deaths and insufficient, poor infrastructure to store bodies has been cause of concern. Even where Indian judiciary has showcased its overwhelming disappointment over the mortuary facilities and even in the cremation of the bodies it is old and unscientific which are not eco-friendly.

One example to quote is in Hyderabad Osmania general hospital is one of them where unclaimed bodies are openly placed outside in corridors – piled, stacked one over the other due to lack of mortuary space. This is causing severe health issues not only to doctors and patients in hospital but also to the habitant in the surrounding areas. Osmania general hospital is heritage building of Hyderabad since it met requirement of Nizam’s era that is 100years back population. But it is still being used without much increase in area or infrastructure of hospital considering the over explosion of population the region this led to over congestion and insufficiency and inhospitable hospital maintenance, now the Government of Telangana is planning to demolish and construct a new hospital in that place.

As responsible citizen of India and as an architect after thorough in detail research I want to give proposal to government of Telangana with greater emphasis on mortuary facilities. Considering present situation that is the emergence of other Government general hospitals and private hospital in Hyderabad what we need is rather a proper mortuary space and cemetery space for bodies, which is severely neglected; very minute share is spent on the autopsy facility and workers from mortuaries struggle to work in conditions where, at every step, they risk contracting biological hazards like blood-borne viruses and other infections, including HIV, hepatitis and TB, India being a tropical country it is more vulnerable of spread of diseases and epidemics.

According to some environmentalists, the ceremony of burning human bodies using wood with the belief that it releases the soul is actually a threat to the environment. According to a report, all the year round, around 50 to 60 million trees are burned during cremations in India. Also, cremation in open grounds generates large amounts of ashes, which are later disposed into rivers and water bodies, especially the Ganga River, thereby polluting the water.

My design proposal would be in lines of having mortuary and cremation facilities together within the hospital based on reliable scientific estimates of current and also future deaths. For cremation I would propose promession technique an environmentally friendly way of burial in this once body is processed it is placed in a biodegradable coffin and buried in a shallow topsoil grave where there is more oxygen the body converts fully into the soil within less than a year, and Because of that, the space can then be re-used by another body. Proposal solves many other issues currently not addressed properly like criminal justice with comprehensive forensic facilities, storage facilities with deep freezers ensures the dignity of bodies and help in identifying the bodies by the beloved, similarly integrated record systems of bodies with easy identification of cases where organ donation is possible and space for research and teaching. Architectural design has a significant role; there was a case where generous donation of deep freezers could not be absorbed since building was unable to fit those freezers due to unscientific design. Concept could be applied in every major city hospitals of India adapting to their place, climate, site context and urban landscape and in collaboration with government, private agencies and NGO’s.

Research (A place for lost souls)

Year                    2014 – ongoing
Project               Research
Client                 Self initiated
Status                 Ongoing
Nomination       Wheelwright Prize Harvard University Graduate School of Design 2016