Life After Death

Dundee University graduate and product designer Andrew Tibbles believes we can all do our bit for the environment, even when we’re dead. For his final degree project, Andrew designed the Aquatic Grave, a new form of eco-burial.

With traditional burial spaces exhausted, following years of unsustainable practices, it’s predicted that there will be a burial crisis in the not too distant future. Over time we’ve inherited countless full graveyards and cemeteries, many of which are neglected and overgrown. Cremation used to be presented as the environmentally friendly option, but more recently there have been increasing concerns about pollutants being released into the atmosphere.

The Aquatic Grave is a sustainable alternative, which uses a fully degradable coffin and offers a way to give back to nature. The deceased is placed on the ocean floor, in a sheltered offshore location, where loved ones can easily visit. Those planning on being buried in this way can also record their own eulogy in advance, so visitors can listen to the words they leave behind.

Over time the tomb becomes an artificial reef, providing sanctuary and nutrition for marine life. Prior experiments carried out by Andrew, using a variety of sunken shapes and materials, collected plenty of new life. Muscles and Limpets galore!

Andrew’s background lies in merging biology and product design. For the project he interviewed forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black, director of the award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at Dundee University, who advised on the decomposition process in salt water.

Developments are in progress as Andrew concludes his research and incorporates cold processed calcium carbonate as a compatible material. As well as designing various grave styles he’s integrating Nacre, which is synthetically produced mother of pearl.

Recent research, at Cambridge University, UK, has paved the way for the development of Nacre as a mass-produced material, which is not only wonderfully iridescent, but is also environmentally-friendly, super strong and as cheap as paper to make.

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