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This world-first facility will turn human remains into soil

Olson Kundig is designing the project.

December 03, 2019 |
Recompose central gathering area

All renderings courtesy Olson Kundig

Olson Kundig recently unveiled the design of the world’s first facility for “natural organic reduction,” a process that gently converts human remains into soil in about 30 days. The project was designed in partnership with, and for, Recompose, the company that offers this natural organic reduction service.

Dubbed Recompose|SEATTLE, the 18,500-sf facility will be built in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood (Washington became the first in the world to legalize this process for the disposition of human remains in April of this year). This third alternative to traditional burials and cremations uses one-eighth the energy of cremation and saves one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person. About one cubic yard of soil is created per person. Friends and family can take some or all of the soil home to grow a tree or garden, with the rest going to nourish conservation land in the Puget Sound region.


Recompose vessel


The Recompose process is centered around individual natural organic reduction vessels that transform the human remains into clean, usable soil. About 75 of these vessels will be stacked and arranged via a modular system to create a central gathering space in the core of the facility.


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While it may sound a bit macabre at first, the facility is designed to be bright and open, with an emphasis on nature, which makes sense, considering nature was the basis for the recomposition process. “We asked ourselves how we could use nature, which has perfected the life-death cycle, as a model for human death care,” said Katriba Spade, Founder and CE, Recompose, in a release. “We saw an opportunity for this profound moment to both give back to the earth and reconnect us with thee natural cycles.”

The facility is slated to open in spring 2021.

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