Life After Death: Organic Burial Pods Turn Human Bodies into Living Trees


Amidst a huge array of natural burial initiatives and urban cemetery alternatives, the Capsula Mundi stands out as a sustainable solution that serves wishes of the deceased as well as the land of the living.


Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel developed this solution in part to challenge constrictive existing laws surrounding burials in their home country.


Essentially, a body is interred in an organic and biodegradable burial capsule situated beneath the seedling of a chosen tree. Instead of filling graveyards with caskets and stone monuments to the deceased, this system would populate parks with living memorials – trees over tombstones. In turn, family and descendants can come to visit and care for the plants in honor of their loved ones.


Many other “green” burial solutions are generally not as ecological as they would first appear. Cremations, for instance, generate huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the burning process. And, of course, traditional burials are not very sustainable – chemicals, caskets, concrete, stone and space are all wasted in an effort to preserve something that will inevitably return to nature, one way or another.


More from the project website: “Capsula Mundi is a cultural and broad-based project, which envisions a different approach to the way we think about death. It’s an egg-shaped pod, an ancient and perfect form, made of biodegradable material, where our departed loved ones are placed for burial. Ashes will be held in small Capsulas while bodies will be laid down in a fetal position in larger pods. 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 and serve as a memorial for the departed and as a legacy for posterity and the future of our planet. Family and friends will continue to care for the tree as it grows. Cemeteries will acquire a new look and, instead of the cold grey landscape we see today, they will grow into vibrant woodlands. The project is still in a start-up phase, but encouraged by worldwide enthusiasm for our concept, we are working to make it become a reality.”