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Evergreenhouse, Art OMI, NY

Sustainable Burial Ground concept, 2019

The Evergreenhouse is an ecological burial ground set within a structure for gatherings and contemplation. It provides an ecosystem that accelerates natural processes to transform the recently deceased into new life, and a space to meditate on that transformation.

The design concept combines cutting-edge science with cultural sensitivity to address the ever-expanding questions of how and where human communities should dispose of their dead. BSC seeks to design a process that is beneficial rather than harmful to the environment, and respects existing rituals as well as fostering possible new meanings.

A crystalline glazed wood-framed greenhouse structure scaled to encompass a mature 60 ft tall oak tree sits above a 34 ft cubic vault. The vault is designed to contain both the tree’s root-system and the interred human remains. The above-ground structure draws on a mathematical model of 4-dimensional space known as the tesseract, referencing that which exists outside our understanding. BSC’s concept embodies dichotomies of light and darkness, above and below, the tangible and the ineffable. 

Within the vault, in compartments protected from the tree roots, a ventilated carbon-rich burial medium ensures the complete decomposition of the human body within one year. Ongoing research is investigating the most efficient and safe methods for achieving decomposition. A garden enclosed by the structure gives access to a number of plots for the deceased, each to be occupied only as long as it takes the physical remains to decompose, converting organic material to fertile soil. Upon full decomposition, the residue is added to the flower-beds above, and the compartment is offered to a new occupant. Designed as a family memorial, relatives can be interred together and reunited through the nutrient cycles of a botanical garden.

This project was first exhibited at Art Omi, NY, in the show Exit Architecture, January 2019.

Press: Architect Newspaper February 5, 2019 By Jonathan Hilburg
“Post-mortem architecture takes center stage at Art Omi’s EXIT exhibition”