Crosses on the Roads: Essays on Puerto Rico's Ignored Monuments
José Néstor Rodríguez
The research-by-design part of José Néstor Rodríguez's M.Arch dissertation, "Crossarium", is a sort of garden that fuses agricultural practices with different funeral traditions found in Puerto Rican popular culture –including among these road crosses and Baquinés. The garden has an Ornamentalium, where relatives and visitors can acquire all kinds of decorations such as flowers, candles, toys, plants, among others; an Educational Center where the new generations learn about the practice and cultural heritage of building crosses by the side of the roads, at the same time participating in the process of caring for them; a Crematorium that seeks more sustainable methods of remembering and treating our dead; the Baquinés, inspired by the popular festivals in the Afro-Caribbean culture after the death of a child to celebrate life; the Sphere as the central point of the project that serves as a spiritual space; the observation bridges product of the preexisting structures of the thermoelectric plant to transport coal; and finally the Terrariums, a proposed structural grid on the existing mountain of coal and ashes where ornaments, ashes, acts of care for the land, agricultural practices, and crosses and sites come together to form a new topography that is the product of new practices implemented in this speculative typology. For more information on the project, feel free to send me an email.