The Urban Death Project

Build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” - Buckminster Fuller

The Urban Death Project (UDP) has designed a scalable, regenerative death care model based on the natural process of decomposition. In the Recomposition centers that the UDP envisions, bodies and forest waste are composted and transformed into soil. These centers are hybrid public park, funeral home, and memorial space, with the potential to be situated in repurposed urban infrastructure. The first full-scale Recomposition center is designed to be located in the city of Seattle, Washington. The Recomposition process eliminates the need for the millions of feet of hardwood, tons of concrete, gallons of toxic embalming fluids, and land required for traditional funerary practices (burial or cremation), while giving back to the earth with nutrient compost. The Urban Death Project’s solution to today’s toxic, $20 billion funeral industry presents a new model of death care that is both human- and nature-centric.

This project is uniquely comprehensive in that what happens to our bodies after death has enormous, universal environmental and cultural impacts. The dramatic shift from traditional burial toward cremation in the last 50 years is promising in terms of the potential for rapid cultural uptake.

The UDP’s efforts to design a new model for death care that makes the existing model obsolete is exemplary, particularly when considering magnitude of the problem they seek to solve. The work of the UDP is spurring a wider public debate about the enormous costs--both economic and environmental--of the burial industry as a whole. The UDP has done the hard spadework on the regulatory front, but future Recomposition centers will be their own legal entities. The model is meant to be adaptable and optimal for community adoption in a variety of contexts.