A steel and brick model of a Saltbox Tomb, made for a traveling exhibition: Exit Architecture.

In the northern provinces of Ancient China, from 9 CE to 13 CE, brick was used in the construction of tombs, in imitation of wooden structures found above ground.

This material translation forces a semiotic shift, creating an afterlife that is materialized through a series of spatial inversions. The drawings above adapt those found in Wei-Cheng Lin’s essay, “Underground Wooden Architecture in Brick”.

The inward-facing tomb walls mimic the exterior facades of buildings above-ground, and the sky above is painted with constellations in reversed cardinal orientation. Entombment, therefore, becomes a process of exteriorization.

The Saltbox Tomb is an adaptation of this reversal procedure in a New England context and transmuted through the vernacular Saltbox House.
This colonial typology is characterized by its asymmetry and earns its name from a resemblance to the wood box where salt was stored in the kitchen.
The Saltbox Tomb becomes a lopsided brick inversion where the facade wraps in on itself, framing a courtyard that is open to the sky.
Beyond formal manipulations, timber framing details such as the stopped-splayed wedge scarf and the queengirt are transformed through their brick similitudes.
A view of the group exhibition exploring architecture and the afterlife at Art Omi, New York.

Type: Exhibition

Title: Exit Architecture

Location: Art Omi, New York

Year: 2019

Team: Jen Wood, Emanuel Admassu

Curators: Julia van den Hout, Kyle May, and Warren James

Metalwork: Nine and Two Thirds

Photograph: Courtesy of Bryan Zimmerman for Art Omi