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Vertical Body Gardens

Challenging burial methods - searching new approaches to the disposal of the dead bodies.

Photo of Burcu Turkay
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

Can we completely change the disposal of the body?
The conventional burials are not sustainable in crowded cities. The natural burial sites are usually on the out-skirts of cities and people need to travel for miles. How can we consider new alternatives to burials? This idea is searching for a new method that uses biomaterials to cover the dead bodies and enable bodies to stand outdoors, instead of being buried in the ground. (

The idea is to develop a new biomaterial to cover the dead bodies. This material contains bacterias, mushrooms, seeds — an environmentally friendly, sustainable mixture. This new material will enable us to place the bodies over the ground in woodlands, parks or our gardens — dissolving the boundaries between the dead and the living. The seeds inside the biomaterial will flourish over time thanks to the elements in the material.  The bodies will evolve into a new living and instead of a headstone, the body itself becomes a memorial. The body memorial will slowly dissolve, “claimed back” by wildlife and eventually blending into nature.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Conduct a survey to find out people's reactions to the idea.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

- Reach out to people who have knowledge and experience on biomaterials,
- Understanding public's opinion on changing attitudes towards death

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a product designer, doing my MA in Sustainable Design

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tim

I've had a similar idea about being buried under a newly planted tree.  Our bodies would fertilize the new trees leaving enduring symbols of life beyond death.  

Photo of Burcu

Hi Tim,
Turning to a tree is a great idea! Have you seen Capsula Mundi Project?  
They also have similar ideas. Hope we will see more forest-like burial grounds in the future.  

Photo of Tim

Thank you for mentioning Capsula Mundi, good to learn about their practice of burying the body in a biodegradable pod as contrasted by the cremated remains in a urn.  
Have you surveyed the public yet on their reaction to your vertical garden idea?  I'm interested in reviewing the results if you are willing to share.