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July 1999 Issue
The Geographical Review
July 1999, Vol. 89 (3), pp. 409-430
HIGH-RISE HOMES FOR THE ANCESTORS: CREMATION IN HONG KONG
Elizabeth K. Teather
Keywords: burial, cemeteries, columbaria, cremation, fengshui, Hong Kong.
A massive, voluntary shift to cremation has taken place in Hong Kong over the past forty years. The provision of facilities by the colonial government and private organizations began with niche walls in existing cemeteries. These were soon supplemented by sizable buildings known as columbaria. The largest and most recent columbarium, completed in 1996, provides 49,884 niches, each of which can hold at least two sets of ashes. Designing columbaria that are functional, sensitive, and culturally specific provides a fascinating challenge to architects. This article contrasts the conservative response of the public sector with the more expressive solutions of private providers.