Katie Oliver: Death of a Habit


London is a world city. It is simultaneously expanding and contracting, growing ever-outwards – and upwards – yet on the brink of divorce from the neighbouring continent. The next generation of designers must deliver fresh thinking to tackle issues that range from the scale of the street to global climate change. We asked pioneering graduates from the LSA how they’d adapt London to ensure that it is inclusive of its citizens, integrated with nature and fit for the future

The city’s ways of dealing with death are unsustainable: London is fast running out of burial sites and alternatives such as cremation are carbon intensive and harmful to the environment.

The proposal of a large, dominating tower that can house decomposing dead bodies is a space-saving, green method of handling London’s lost. More practically, the tower addresses projected rising death rates and provides top soil compost recovery through decomposition of the human body. Each tower is joined by ancillary buildings, namely a departure space and memorial arboretum.

Proposed as a London-wide strategy, where every ward in each borough selects a site for the decomposition tower and ancillary buildings, the project serves as a stark reminder of our own mortality, and in doing so, strives to allow Western society to change attitudes towards death.