Design Concept Imagines an Illuminated Cemetery of the Future

The question of how to care for a body postmortem is a weighty one, perhaps even more people in cities, where prices are high and options are limited. As space shrinks, the problem grows, and one Columbia University team is working to develop solutions for New Yorkers, as well as the increasingly urban world at large.

DeathLab is a research and design group comprised of academics across disciplines (architects, scientists, theologians, etc.) who work together to develop practical solutions to the problem of where to put the dead in metropolitan areas. Traditional American methods like embalmment and burial or cremation are bad for the environment, and the former is problematic as cemetery space dwindles. So DeathLab is developing ideas like Constellation Park: a concept in which human remains are used to power lanterns that would hang from the Big Apple’s Manhattan Bridge.

If that sounds a little unbelievable, let’s backtrack. The idea at the heart of Constellation Park has to do with anaerobic digestion—a process in which microorganisms feed on a body in the absence of oxygen. As Columbia Magazine reports, this is helpful for pure disposal purposes, but also for its incredible byproduct: energy. Energy that can theoretically be used to generate light.

The biomass energy could power light pods that would be suspended from the bridge—a convenient way to incorporate the memorial sites into existing city infrastructure, with platforms and walkways to allow visitors. The remains will naturally decompose until they extinguish (or are retrieved by loved ones) and the pods would be replaced with new remains.

DeathLab director Karla Rothstein told Columbia Magazine: “People are so moved by the possibility that the corpse of a loved one could create light. We don’t talk about death; we don’t think about it. But to feel like your grief would be part of a larger community, and this person whose life is being honored remains part of this enduring constellation — it’s something people respond to really positively.”

The idea is still far from becoming a reality, and the collaborative is currently at work trying to create an organic material to test it. They are also simultaneously delving into other methods of bodily disposal and memorial, like “Sylvan Constellation,” which fuses a sort of traditional cemetery space with the organic energy-powered lights concept.

For more on DeathLab and Constellation Park, check out the project’s website.

[h/t Columbia Magazine]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]