Not literally, but pretty darn close.
A few years ago, we brought you a story about the Capsula Mundi concept, which is an egg-shaped burial pod made from biodegradable materials, inside which a person's mortal remains would be placed. A tree would then be planted over the pod, which would eventually fully decompose, essentially turning the deceased's body into a tree. Sort of.
Based on the comments on that piece, it seemed to resonate with the treehugging green burial crowd, so I'm happy to announce that Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, the designers behind Capsula Mundi, are moving forward with this project, with the aim of developing a viable full-sized industrial prototype of the 'egg' and producing molds for the eco-coffin by sometime next year.
"We have designed an egg-shaped pod - an ancient and perfect form - made of biodegradable material, where the departed’s body will be laid down in a fetal position. The pod will then be buried as a seed in the earth. A tree, chosen in life by the deceased, will be planted on top of it, as a legacy for future generations and the future of the planet. Family and friends will take care of it."
In addition to the burial pod, Capsula Mundi envisions cemeteries becoming memorial forests, full of life and natural beauty instead of perfectly manicured lawns punctuated by headstones and gravesites that essentially serve to keep those plots from being used for any other purpose than as a (seldom visited) memorial site. The project creators also aim to integrate a GPS system to create a map full of virtual memorials:
A GPS system will map the trees’ location. Using a recognition system, every tree will be linked with data storage which can keep all the virtual memories of the deceased: pictures, videos, audios and anything the person wanted leave to family and friends.
Here's a great short talk by the designers, which sheds some light on the thinking behind this project, which also seeks to change our perception of death:
"Could our perception of death be changed by simply redesigning one object, the coffin? Anna and Raoul, two designers who are part of the Capsula Mundi project, believe so. Their goal is to change the perception of death, not as the end of life but as the beginning of a return path in the biological cycle of life."
Capsula Mundi is currently in a crowdfunding phase, with the intent of raising funds to finish a viable prototype and create the molds for future production of these burial eggs, as well as to continue the designers' research on potential materials for the pods and to address the "biological matters and legal considerations concerning the project." Rewards for backers range from a small version of the pods, the Capsula for ashes, which allows for the slow dispersal of the deceased's ashes into the soil, to a flip book about the project (and about the natural cycle of life), as well as Capsula Mundi t-shirts and cloth shopping bags.