The Cemetery as Tree Nursery: Capsula Mundi

capsula mundi turns a cemetery into a forest

Last week, we took a look at composting as an option once we’ve passed on. Got one or two “Ewwww” responses on that; most were positive, though. One interesting question that came up: what about a spot for visiting? After all, that’s probably the main thing a cemetery offers: a permanent place associated with our loved one. My response: why not mark the spot where the compost is buried, and turn that into a memorial of some kind?

It turns out that two Italian designers not only considered this question well before me, but in much more depth. Designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel put their considerable talents to the question “How can we dispose of the dead in a much more eco-friendly manner while still taking the emotional needs of the living into account?” The concept they created: Capsula Mundi, a burial pod designed to turn our loved ones into fertilizer for a tree directly above the burial spot.

“Turn loved ones into fertilizer” makes this idea sound more focused on the environmental aspects than the emotional one, but Citelli and Bretzel argue that Capsula Mundi creates a memorial much more fitting than the typical headstone: “By planting different kinds of trees next to each other it creates a forest. A place where children will be able to learn all about trees. It’s also a place for a beautiful walk and a reminder of our loved ones.” You might argue that this concept realizes the notion that “life begets life.”

But how does it work? The “capsula” in question is an egg-shaped pod in which the body is placed in the fetal position. Made from starch plastic, the pod itself will decompose, and expose the body to underground elements. Natural decomposition then takes care of the body, releasing nutrients into the soil, and to the tree planted above.  The question for a person considering their mortality shifts from “What do you want on your headstone?” to “What kind of tree do you want to feed?”

No doubt some with still find this a little too “natural,” but if you’d like to live on after death, this is certainly one way to do it fairly literally. I love the concept; I’m not a designer, though, so feel free to offer your critiques.

via Mister Finch

Image credit: Shutterstock

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