Dutch designers claim a world first with a funeral in which the deceased person was buried in a moss-filled coffin made of mycelium: the underground fungal network of fungi.
The Living Cocoon was developed by Bob Hendrikx together with researchers from Delft University of Technology and the Naturalis Museum of Natural History and has already been incorporated into the coffin collections offered by two Dutch funeral companies.
‘The Living Cocoon enables people to become one with nature again and enrich the earth instead of polluting it,’ says Hendrikx. ” After months of development, it was a truly impressive moment to finally be able to mark someone’s passing away in this extraordinary way. ‘
The speed at which a body composts depends on various conditions, but it can take over a decade. The lacquered and metal parts of a coffin as well as synthetic clothing can last even longer.
Hendrikx expects the mycelium coffin to be able to complete this entire process in two to three years because it actively contributes to the composting process. Not only are waste products from the human body converted into nutrients, but the quality of the surrounding soil is also improved, giving it new life and an opportunity to thrive.
The production process takes several weeks, and the mycelium is grown in the form of a coffin and then dried naturally, pausing its growth. Once it has been exposed to groundwater for some time, the mycelium begins to live again and start the composting process.
The coffins themselves are light, but can carry up to 200 kilos in weight. The first 10 have now ‘grown’ and the company hopes to be able to expand abroad in the near future.
While the Dutch coffin may be a first, California designer Jae Rhim Lee in 2015 developed a suit embedded with fungal spores to accelerate degradation and neutralize toxins that the human body releases.
Actor Luke Perry was reportedly buried in a ‘mushroom death suit’ when he died of a heart attack last year.
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