Death Lab

A recent DeathLab design went on to win an international juried competition, held by Future Cemetery, an organization comprised of several design and academic groups including the Center for Death and Society at the University of Bath.

The winning concept—called the Sylvan Constellation—is beautifully elegant, environmentally responsible, and eternally renewing, as its “bioconversion vessels” will, according to visionary architect and DeathLab head Karla Rothstein, “accept and honor new deaths in perpetuity, while preserving far more woodland vegetation than earthen burial” and will also take formerly private cemeteries and turn them back into public gathering spaces.

The energy generated by the breakdown of the bodies within bioconversion pods—lofted on slender steel pylons—creates energy to illuminate a system of lights. Some of DeathLab’s plans even propose suspending the bioconversion pods from beneath major standing structures such as the Manhattan Bridge, generating a public light sculpture, while also illustrating the cycle of life and death, as the pods’ brightness eventually dims when the decomposition process is complete. And this allows the process to begin all over again with another body.

It is also a rather elegant way to incorporate the truth of death into our daily life, creating a beautiful public display that reminds us of our mortality, and the natural cycle that represents.