Skip to Content
photo of Olson Kundig Designs World’s First Facility for Converting Human Remains into Soil

Olson Kundig Designs World’s First Facility for Converting Human Remains into Soil


Global design practice Olson Kundig is currently designing a flagship facility for Recompose, which provides a sustainable option for after-death care. Led by design principal Alan Maskin, when Recompose|SEATTLE opens in Spring 2021 it will be the first facility to offer this new service to the public – a third alternative to traditional burials and cremations that uses one-eighth the energy of cremation and saves over one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person.

Designed in collaboration with Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of the Recompose public benefit corporation, the new facility will offer a service called “natural organic reduction” which gently converts human remains into soil in about 30 days, helping nourish new life after death. Washington State became the first in the world to legalize this process for the disposition of human remains in April 2019.

The 18,500-square-foot facility has secured space in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. This facility will carefully orchestrate the Recompose process, which is centered around individual natural organic reduction vessels that transform human remains into clean, usable soil. The core of the Recompose|SEATTLE space is a modular system containing approximately 75 of these vessels, stacked and arranged to demarcate a central gathering space.

For more information about this alternate burial method, please visit

We asked ourselves how we could use nature – which has perfected the life/death cycle – as a model for human death care. We saw an opportunity for this profound moment to both give back to the earth and reconnect us with these natural cycles. Katrina Spade, Founder and CEO, Recompose
As a studio, Olson Kundig has always thrived on close collaboration with some of the world’s most imaginative and innovative problem‑solvers, like Katrina and her team. We’re honored to be involved with this project, and excited for the first Recompose facility in the world to open its doors in Seattle. Alan Maskin, Design Principal