In April 2019, Washington became the first US state to legalize the composting of human bodies. As a result of this new legislation, the world’s first-ever composting site, Recompose, will open its doors in spring 2021 in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.
Plans for the facility drawn by Olson Kundig Architects in collaboration with Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of Recompose, were released yesterday and it looks nothing like a traditional funeral home.
The 18,500-square-foot facility is a light-filled open space decorated with an abundance of greenery that can be moved around. The space is comprised of 75 hexagonal-shaped vessels where bodies are stored for decomposition. All the vessels are stacked, looking a little like a beehive, around a gathering space meant for ceremonies.
Human composting is believed to be significantly more environmentally friendly than traditional methods of burial or cremation. Recompose’s patent-pending method involves placing bodies in one of the moisture- and temperature-controlled vessels filled with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. In just 30 days of microbial activity, the body breaks down into soil. Recompose’s human composting consumes just one eighth of the energy required for cremation.
The human composting process generates around a cubic yard of soil from the human body. Mourners can choose to keep the resulting soil or Recompose can use it to help reforest land in southern Washington.