Metro Louisville’s coroner, in partnership with the park district and several local high schools, established a remarkable program that offers a non-denominational memorial service and burial to the homeless and those without adequate means. No member of this community is ever laid to rest alone, as student volunteers serve as pall bearers year round. Surviving off only minimal government investment and private donations, the program had outgrown a previous indigent cemetery and shifted to a more prominent neighborhood location that sought a civic presence. A pro bono collaboration of designers and builders utilized 100% donated, off the shelf materials to assemble a shelter that celebrates daylight yet strives to remain introspective.
Components were assembled to minimize construction waste and facilitate easy repair. By inverting the more traditional gabled roof and incorporating light-diffusing glass, sunlight floods the underside of the structure and gives users a more direct, symbolic connection to the sky, while rainwater cascades into a drywell at the far end of the building. The casket stand is centered beneath the roof to allow concelebrants to gather on all sides, further reinforcing the program’s mission that regardless of a person’s circumstance in life, everyone deserves to be shown respect in death.
Colin Drake, AIA, LEED AP
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