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Six Feet Under: Design + Death Symposium


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 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.

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?

Future Undertakings 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.


  • Hamish Coates, landscape architect and Principal Designer, Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
  • Bec Lyons, President, Natural Death Advocacy Network
  • Bjorn Nansen, DeathTech, University of Melbourne
  • Moderated by Dr Katrina Simon, RMIT University

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? 

Designing for Diversity 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. 


  • Kimba Griffith, The Last Hurrah Funerals
  • Kirsten Bauer, Global Design Director, ASPECT Studio
  • Ven. Thich Phuoc Tan OAM, Abbot of Quang Minh Buddhist Temple
  • Moderated by Dr Hannah Gould, DeathTech, University of Melbourne

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?

Towards the Light 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.


  • Dr Mark Boughey, Director of Palliative Medicine, St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne
  • Dr Rebecca McLaughlan, Sydney School of Architecture, Design & Planning, University of Sydney
  • Moderated by Tania Davidge, Open House Melbourne

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.

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

Important Details

Time & Date

Sunday 2 June

General admission: $45 + booking fee
Concession/Members: $35 + booking fee

11am Future Undertakings: Design and the Future of the Cemetery
12pm Lunch break
1pm Diversity + Dying: Cultural Practices of Mourning
2.30pm Towards the Light: Design at the End of Life

Please note:

  • This is a day long symposium event with a break for lunch.
  • Please register any accessibility requirements by 5pm Monday 20 May.


Fully wheelchair accessible, Auslan interpretation available upon request


Clemenger Auditorium, National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Rd, Southbank VIC 3006


_Design + Death is presented by Open House Melbourne in partnership with Major Program Partner Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust and Program Partners Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust and DeathTech Research Team in association with the University of Melbourne School of Computing and Information Systems and School of Culture and Communication._

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