Hou de Sousa's proposal Light Forms was selected as a finalist for Arch Out Loud's Tokyo Vertical Cemetery Competition. Light Forms is a seven story structure that encases a digitally programmable light sculpture 9x9x9m in volume. Nearly 100k LED nodes shine through individually paired diamonds which have been synthesized from funerary ashes. The proposal includes an onsite laboratory specialized in chemically distilling carbon from cremated remains into pure graphite, which is then atomically restructured into diamond using an HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) machine. This allotropic transformation increases the density of the carbon structure, but also results in a transparent substance capable of prismatically dispersing light.
The intertwining of ancestral relics and a flexible digital display systemallows for new forms of reverence and ritualization to emerge and evolve. It’s possible that visitors are greeted by a randomly shimmering constellation or by highly orchestrated three dimensional abstractions. Detailed large scale figures, such as religious deities, can be programmed into the system as could dynamic representations of lost loved ones.
The building acts as both a vessel and a viewing device. As visitors circulate along the periphery of the central atrium they are immersed in a procession of every changing surface opacities. Views are concealed and opened, both inward and outward. Opportunities for privacy and transparency are scattered throughout. Natural light levels ebb and flow. This is achieved through the use of a double-layered lumber lattice system, which simultaneously serves as a structural space frame while also supporting built in stairways and benches. The wood has been charred on all sides as per the Japanese tradition of Shou Sugi Ban, but one face of each member is subsequently sliced off, exposing the raw wood beneath. The charred surfaces mask shadows, leaving the clean wood face to appear formless like abstract planes floating in space.