DEATH & THE CITY – Tokyo Vertical Cemetery

Submission: September 24 , 2016
Registration: September 23, 2016
Language: English
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Prizes: Prizes total to $8,000
Type: Open


​In the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, arch out loud challenges designers to develop proposals for a vertical cemetery that explores the relationship between life and death within the city. The need to examine this condition affords designers the opportunity to not just efficiently respond to the issue of space but also look into the cultural identity that this solemn program can project within its environment.

Private developers in Tokyo have used temples as covers to build cemetery plots which they can sell for ten times the price of land without taxes. This practice results in the unwanted placement of cemeteries adjacent to homes in the already densely populated neighborhoods of Tokyo. Amplifying this issue are the ever-changing demographics of Tokyo. Recent studies show that the city’s average age is rapidly increasing, with nearly twenty-five percent of the population being 65 or older and a large majority over the age of 30. Similarly, more and more rural residents are coming into Tokyo, increasing the overall population. As the age and population increase, Tokyo is being forced to face the issue of burial space.


​With its own mayor, and status equivalent to that of a city, the Shinjuku Ward just west of central Tokyo houses an eccentric mix of administrative, entertainment, transportation and commercial programs. As a result of its programmatic blend, Shinjuku’s built environment stitches together an array of urban fabrics. With its diversity of programs and energetic scenery, Shinjuku perfectly sets the stage for an exploration of architecture for the dead in the realm of the living.


  • Explore the relationship between seat and the current state of the discipline of Architecture.
  • Look for innovative ways cemetery can be experienced.
  • Create a solution that efficiently addresses Tokyo’s issue with space.
  • Define a relationship between two unlike environments  – the cemetery and the city.
  • Examine the connection between a cemetery and the commercial and pop culture identities of Tokyo.


Prizes total to $8,000


Architecture + Death Publication

3 Runner-up Awards – $1,000 each

Architecture + Death Publication

10 Honorable Mentions

Architecture + Death Publication

Directors Choice

Architecture + Death Publication


JUN 20TH, 2016       Advance registration opens ($50)
JUL 17TH, 2016       Advanced registration closes
JUL 18TH, 2016       Early registration opens  ($70)
AUG 15TH, 2016       Early registration closes
AUG 16TH, 2016      Regular registration opens ($90)
SEP 23RD, 2016      Registration deadline
SEP 24TH, 2016        Submission deadline
OCT 6TH, 2016        Final 50 announced
OCT 20TH, 2016      Winners announced

Go to the competition’s website