Genesis Lake, Bunurong Memorial Park. Image by Jonathan Lang for Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust

Six Feet Under | Design + Death Symposium Past Event

Presented by Open House Melbourne


Sun 02 Jun 11:00am - 3:30pm


Booking Required


Clemenger Auditorium
180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank VIC, Australia


Accessible bathroom, Auslan interpreted, Seating available, Wheelchair accessible

Join Open House Melbourne and special guests for a day of panel conversations shining a light on the architecture, places, issues and practices associated with death and the end of life. Six Feet Under | Design + Death Symposium invites audiences to consider the intersection of design and death and discover how the spaces we associate with death and dying are, surprisingly, not so much about death but instead more about life and how we live across three panel discussions.


11AM-12PM – Future Undertakings | Design and the Future of the Cemetery

During the pandemic many of us discovered our local cemeteries. We used them as public spaces in the same way we use our parks, gardens and waterfronts. As our city continues to grow, access to quality public space has never been more important. How might the cemetery play a broader role as our suburbs and neighbourhoods increase in density? Moderated by Dr Katrina Simon in conversation with panelists Hamish Coates, Bec Lyons, and Sam Holleran, Future Undertakings | Design and the Future of the Cemetery will look at the design of cemeteries. It will address the future of cemetery design, the ways in which our cemeteries might incorporate sustainability and how cemeteries can be used more expansively and flexibly as places for the living as well as the dead.


1-2PM – Designing for Diversity: Cultural Practices of Mourning

There are many ways to mourn. How does multicultural Australia grieve and, in an increasing secular society, what are the ways we can memorialise those who have passed away?

Moderated by Dr Hannah Gould in conversation with Kimba Griffith, Kirsten Bauer and Ven. Thich Phuoc Tan OAM, Designing for Diversity: Cultural Practices of Mourning will address cultural and sub-cultural responses to death and explore the diversity of rituals and practices of mourning and commemoration in Australia. It will address the spatial aspects of these practices, shining a light on the design and planning of cemeteries and funeral and their ability to connect communities through processes of grieving.


2.30-3.30PM – Towards the Light | Design at the End of Life

How do we prepare for death? What do we need to think about if we wish to die at home and what if home is not an option? Moderated by Tania Davidge in conversation with panelists Dr Mark Boughey, and Dr Rebecca McLaughlan, Towards the Light | Design at the End of Life will reflect on the importance of design in spaces focused on the end of life, considering the places in which we might die and how we can live a good life, right up until the end. It will look at what it means to die with dignity and address how we can help our loved ones to lead the conversation, allowing them agency at the end of life.

During the Design + Death Symposium, interactive installations presented by DeathTech Research Team and GMCT invite participants to contribute a funeral playlist and consider (or reconsider) how they may like to be commemorated and buried. Please note this is a day long symposium event with a break for lunch. Please register any accessibility requirements by 5pm Monday 20 May.

Design + Death is presented by Open House Melbourne, supported by Major Program Partner Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, Program Partners DeathTech Research Team and the School of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, and Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.


Dr Katrina Simon, RMIT University
Hamish Coates, Landscape Architect and Principal Designer, Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
Bec Lyons, President, Natural Death Advocacy Network
Sam Holleran, DeathTech, University of Melbourne
Dr Hannah Gould, DeathTech, University of Melbourne
Tania Davidge, Open House Melbourne
Dr Mark Boughey, Director of Palliative Medicine, St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne
Dr Rebecca McLaughlan, Sydney School of Architecture, Design & Planning, University of Sydney
Kimba Griffith, The Last Hurrah Funerals
Kirsten Bauer, Global Design Director, ASPECT Studio
Ven. Thich Phuoc Tan OAM, Abbot of Quang Minh Buddhist Temple

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