CLOSE

London's Skyscraper Sepulcher: The Corpse Pyramid That Almost Was

It sounds like something straight out of a Rob Zombie movie: A decorative pyramid designed to hold corpses. Five million of them, to be exact. But unlike the events of a Zombie film, this pyramid was almost a reality.

In 1829, London officials were starting to worry about where they were going to put their dead. Real estate was at a premium as the population continued to climb. To solve the problem, architect Thomas Willson proposed a burial structure that would go up instead of out. At 94 stories high, the mausoleum would have dwarfed even St. Paul’s Cathedral, the tallest building in town at the time. Covering 18 acres in the Primrose Hill part of Regent’s Park, Willson’s massive pyramid was designed to hold five million bodies in honeycomb-like catacombs. What’s more, he said, the mausoleum would generate millions of pounds in profit when it was completely full.

It didn’t happen for all of the reasons you imagine it didn’t. First of all, people didn’t want the beautiful London skyline to be dominated by a building full of rotting bodies. There were also doubts as to whether Primrose Hill could support the sheer weight of the brick structure, and city officials weren’t sold on Willson’s profit estimation.

Ultimately, officials decided to move forward with the garden-like Highgate Cemetery instead, and the pyramid idea was laid to rest—but it appears Willson was simply ahead of his time.

Faced with similar population and land problems, Israel recently started construction on 30 “high burial buildings” to house its dead. The city of Oslo, Norway, is considering skyscraper sepulchers; and Santos, Brazil, has been burying its citizens in a 32-story cemetery for decades.

Given that the world is rapidly running out of places to bury the deceased, it could be time to resurrect Willson's concept. For anyone still opposed, there's always composting.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
arrow
architecture
Vantablack Pavilion at the Winter Olympics Mimics the Darkness of Space
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

British company Surrey NanoSystems disrupted the color spectrum when it debuted Vantablack: the darkest artificial substance ever made. The material is dark enough to absorb virtually all light waves, making 3D objects look like endless black voids. It was originally designed for technology, but artists and designers have embraced the unique shade. Now, Dezeen reports that British architect Asif Khan has brought Vantablack to the Winter Olympics.

His temporary pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea has been dubbed the darkest building on Earth. The 33-foot-tall structure has been coated with Vantablack VBx2, a version of Vantablack pigment that comes in a spray can.

The building’s sides curve inward like shadowboxes. To break up the all-consuming blackness, Khan outfitted the walls with rods. White lights at the ends of the sticks create the effect of stars scattered across an endless night sky.

Child next to wall painted to look like the night sky.
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

Khan told Dezeen that the piece is meant to give “the impression of a window cut into space.” He was only able to realize this vision after contacting the scientists behind Vantablack. He told them he wanted to use the color to coat a building, something the pigment wasn’t designed for originally. Sculptor Anish Kapoor securing exclusive rights to artistic use of the color in 2016 further complicated his plans. The solution was the sprayable version: Vantablack VBx2 is structurally (and therefore legally) different from the original pigment and better suited for large-scale projects.

The pavilion was commissioned by Hyundai to promote their hydrogen fuel cell technology. The space-themed exterior is a nod to the hydrogen in stars. Inside, a white room filled with sprinklers is meant to represent the hydrogen found in water.

The area will be open to visitors during the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday, February 9.

[h/t Dezeen]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Shari Austrian
arrow
Design
You Can Order a Stunningly Detailed LEGO Replica of Your House on Etsy
Shari Austrian
Shari Austrian

LEGO blocks can be used to construct fictional starships and works of abstract art, but there's something comforting in replicating what's familiar to you. That's the concept behind Little Brick Lane, an Etsy shop that promises to custom-build detailed LEGO models of real homes.

Designer Shari Austrian tells Apartment Therapy that the idea came to her when her family was building their real-life house. Her twin boys had recently gotten her interested in LEGO, so she decided to construct a scaled-down, blocky replica to match their new home. She enjoyed the project enough to launch a business around LEGO architecture on Etsy at the end of 2017.

Austrian bases her designs off interior and exterior photos of each house, and if they're available, architectural plans. Over eight to 10 weeks, she constructs the model using LEGO pieces she orders to match the building design perfectly, recreating both the inside and outside of the house in the utmost detail.

To request a custom LEGO abode of your own, you can reach out to Austrian through her Etsy shop, but warning: It won't come cheap. A full model will cost you at least $2500 (the exact price is based on the square footage of your home). That price covers the cost of the materials Austrian invests in each house, which can add up quick. "The average LEGO piece costs approximately 10 cents," she tells Mental Floss, and her models are made up of tens of thousands of pieces. But if you're looking for something slightly cheaper, she also offers exterior-only models for $1500 and up.

For your money, you can be confident that Austrian won't skimp on any details. As you can see in the images below, every feature of your house—from the appliances in your kitchen to the flowers in your yard—will be immortalized in carefully chosen plastic bricks.

A bedroom made of LEGO

A kitchen model made of LEGO

The exterior of a house made of LEGO

[h/t Apartment Therapy]

All images courtesy of Shari Austrian.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios