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A "living" coffin made from mushrooms.

In the Netherlands, the bio-designer and architect Bob Hendrikx, founder of the company "Loop Biotech", has designed a new kind of coffin called "Living Cocoon". Its particularity: it is made from mushrooms, more precisely from mycelium, a composition that allows the deceased to decompose more quickly.

"The objective is to feed the earth with our bodies. We are nutrients, not waste", explains Bob Hendricks.

© Marie Fontaine -

In a traditional coffin, the human body can take more than a decade to decompose, due to the painted wood that makes up the coffin, the metal that may be present, and even the synthetic clothing that typically slows the process.

According to its designers, the "Living Cocoon" is able to accelerate this phenomenon thanks to mycelium.

Indeed, mycelium, the set of filaments that compose the vegetative part of mushrooms, is omnipresent in nature.

Sectional drawing of a mushroom
Sectional drawing of a mushroom

Scientists increasingly believe that it provides a "network" in the soil that mutually benefits about 90% of plant species. It is through these vast mycelial networks that organisms such as trees communicate and exchange resources.

In addition, mycelium is also one of the greatest recyclers on earth, perfectly capable of breaking down various substances and purifying the environment. It is particularly effective against pollutants such as heavy metals, textile dyes, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and herbicides. In other words, it is a completely natural solution to safely decompose human remains without polluting the environment.

After numerous trials with different species of fungi, the team finally settled on the mycelium of the grey oyster mushroom, a common edible variety found around the world.

The "living cocoon"- credit : Loop Biotech
The "living cocoon" - credit : Loop Biotech

To create these new coffins, mycelium must be grown for seven days, without electricity or artificial light, during which time it takes on the shape of the coffin. The coffin is then dried naturally, which interrupts the growth of the filaments and strengthens its structure.

A bed of foam is also included in each coffin to facilitate decomposition.

According to the company, each coffin is capable of supporting a body weighing more than 200 kilos.

Once underground, the mycelium reactivates to completely destroy this "living coffin" in 30 to 45 days, accelerating the decomposition of the body and removing toxins and pollutants.

On average, a body in a traditional coffin can take up to 20 years to decompose, whereas with this "Living Coccon", the body should decompose completely in two to three years.

While the concept of living cocoons is new, other mycelium-based burial inventions have already emerged. In May 2019, the daughter of Beverly Hills actor Luke Perry revealed that her father, who died at the age of 52, was buried in an "Infinity Burial Suit," a suit also designed using mycelium by the company Coeio.


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