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Germany

Massive Pyramid Planned as Global Mausoleum in Germany

One day, a monumental structure intended as a global mausoleum could rise from the vast fields of eastern Germany's Saxony-Anhalt region.

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The pyramid would be located in Saxony-Anhalt's idyllic countryside

Planned for the area around the city of Dessau, a pyramid nearly twice as high as the Empire State Building in New York could be the final resting place for people from all over the world.

Every stone contains an urn and reservations can be made online. If demand is low, the height of the pyramid will be reduced.

Dutch star architect Rem Koolhaas is supporting the project that forms part of the architectural contribution Updating Germany at the Venice Biennale, which runs until November 23.

Locals were not exactly enthusiastic when plans for such a colossal piece of architecture were first presented several months ago.

Despite the prospect of new jobs and pyramid-related tourism, there were protests against the "mass grave."

Nevertheless, supporters of the pyramid are not giving up and are seeking approval for its construction from the Dessau city council.

"Reasons given by opponents so far have been very irrational," said Thomas Busch, an architect and city councilor. "The region cannot afford to let go of such an idea."

Dessau has a reputation as a design and architectural center and is famous for its Bauhaus designers like Marcel Breuer or Walter Gropius.

Concerns over effects of pyramid on local culture

08.12.2007 Kultur.21 große Pyramide 1

Critics say the landscape will be spoit by the tomb

Critics also see UNECSO World Heritage area Gartenreich Dessau-Woertlitz at risk, just like the rural idyll of Streetz village, a possible site for the pyramid.

"That is a divisive issue," a spokesperson for the local authorities said. "The village council and the city council oppose the idea."

The initiators, economist Jens Thiel and writer Ingo Niermann, believe in the location, but do not intend to bury their idea if local politics reject it.

"In principle, the pyramid could be built anywhere in the world," Thiel said, adding that the plan had already caused worldwide interest.

The pyramid's homepage promises that members of all nations and religions, peacefully side by side, could become part of possibly the largest building of humankind.

Architects and undertakers see feasibility of project

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas supports the project

The German Federal Cultural Foundation supported a simulated version of the project, which might now become reality. Renowned architects have also provided ideas for the project, which ultimately aims to earn money from millions of deceased.

The German Association of Undertakers believes it's a feasible idea.

"It's a community burial ground like any other," said general manager Rolf Lichtner. "If local authorities oversee it, then it's possible."

To allay fears, the pyramid supporters are now planning to build a model -- "around 15-18 meters high."

Inventor Thiel admits that concerns about the size of the building could be one factor causing the resentment and puts it into perspective.

"With 5 million urns the pyramid would be 150 meters high," he said. That still is substantially smaller than Cologne's famous cathedral, which stands at 157 meters.

But 5 million urns still were a "hypothetical number that could possibly be reached in 20 or 39 years' time," he said.

So far, 1,400 people from 800 countries have stated their interest in the East German pyramid as their final resting place.

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