Vertical cemetery: a respectful reconversion of a grain silo on Malmö harbour

The City of the Living and The City of the Dead is the project proposed by Lund University Students for urban recycling.

Malmö, Sweden


img.0The City of the Dead and the City of the Living – All images by Fredrik Thornström and Karolina Pajnowska.

Students of Lund University Fredrik Thornström and Karolina Pajnowska propose to convert an abandoned grain silo into a vertical cemetery on Malmö port area. The project called The City of the Living and The City of the Dead features both a crematorium and a connected housing building… And offers a reflection for a sensitive approach to sustainable building culture.


img.1Ceremony Hall.

The vertical cemetery is conceived as a columbarium preserving the original concrete structure as much as possible. The concept of the building is making clusters of silo-cylinders to form empty ‘voids’ flooded with light from above. The City of the Dead is divided into three columbarium, visitor spaces in between, a technical facilities tower hosting the crematorium and special rooms.


The voids host urns that are placed on shelves spiralling along the inner cylindrical walls. The empty spaces are designated for the dead only and are inaccessible for the visitors. Every urn is though accessible from the darker, meandering spaces in between the voids through a small window that serves as the memorial slot for the passed away.


Fredrik Thornström and Karolina Pajnowska say “Urban recycling is one of the key factors contributing to a sustainable building culture. We converted a disused grain silo because we believe that future cities will need to become denser and denser and what has always been associated with the usage of extensive areas might no longer be able to claim as much cityscape as before”.


We believe that what now means a great contrast in functional disposition, will in the nearest future become necessity. That’s why we don’t see placing a crematorium in close vicinity of residential areas as a controversial decision – rather a justified one”.

img.5Entrance of the vertical cemetery.

The vertical cemetery entrance platform is floating among thick, concrete pillars and the conical undersides of the silos. Stone pathways lead the visitors towards the entrance. The ceremony before the cremation takes place in this special hall, where the vertical, illuminating columbarium wall serves as a background for the memorialisation.


The project includes also another adjacent silo that was transformed into a residential building. In this part of the project, the necessity of insulation and cladding creates a different expression.

img.7The House go the Living.

Also Thomas Heaterwick reconverted a grain silo. The British architect worked on the transformation of a disused building into art gallery at the V&A waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. The project will inaugurate in late 2016/beginning 2017.



Via Archipanic