‘Monumentimals’ was DSDHA’s contribution to the Monumental Masonry Exhibition, held at Sir John Soane’s Museum from 6th December 2014 – 24th January 2015.
The exhibition was the result of a collaboration between Sir John Soane’s Museum and Bompas & Parr, who together launched an open call for architects and designers to “create epic monuments in a magnificent celebration of death”.
DSDHA’s response to the open call was informed by two key facts: In the UK, we give nearly twice as much money to animal charities as we do to disability charities, while in America it has been revealed that more money is spent by parents on their pets than on their children. With the proliferation of animal-based memes on the internet, we felt that it is now far more likely that contemporary mausolea will be built to honour our furry friends than for our human counterparts.
The competition was designed to reignite interest in funerary architecture, tombs and mausolea inspired by the sarcophagus housed in the basement of Sir John Soane’s Museum. It attracted 120 entries from international architects and designers. Some 24 designs were shortlisted by Bompas & Parr and these were then scored on narrative and rationale, relevance and ‘monumentality’ by a panel of judges that comprised architects, a professional stonemason, palliative care experts and the Mayor of London’s cultural office. Ten winning entries, including DSDHA’s Monumentimals, were then selected to be 3D printed for the exhibition and auctioned by Christie’s at a spectacular launch night. Collectively, the models raised £5,000 for Sir John Soane’s Museum and cancer charity Maggie’s. DSDHA helped fund the 3D printing costs as a charitable contribution.
Monumentimals, therefore, proposed a series of monumental animal mausolea. Taking inspiration from ancient Egyptian cat mummies and sarcophagi (some of which are included in Soane’s encyclopaedic collection), the form of the proposal pays homage to the animals’ better days, encasing and protecting stone sarcophagi inside a series of monumental masonry slabs.