Architecture of the body

A necessary materiality in the future

of architecture, building and production


With swelling populations and dwindling resources, in the near future our richest resource will be the human cadaver.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Our age is defined by our waste. It is estimated that by 2025 the human population will reach 8 billion. 9 billion soon after. As our population increases, our resources radically deplete and our production of airborne carbon exponentially grows the one resource that we will have in increasing and reliable amounts is the human cadaver. In 2025 it is estimated that, on average, over 170,000 people will die everyday. If in reasonable condition, many of our organs can be harvested and reused, however what about the other parts? What of the decaying biomass? The “stronger than steel” bone? The vast quantities of fat? Without limits on population and the onset of reduced resources we will be obliged to reuse and recycle the human body. How do we make the most of this constantly renewing resource? What potential will this new materiality have for architecture and the building industry?

By 2025 over-population reduces basic resources:
- drastically reduced forests / timber
- soil exhaustion / reduced food production
- water salinity / dwindling supplies of fresh water
- peak oil / depleted stocks of plastics, related chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fuel
- mineral and ore depletion

Building out of human remains is nothing new, with wonderful examples such as  Capela dos Ossos in Portugal, Golden Chamber of Saint Ursula and Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic. The human frame offers a fully modular construction type.

In the future your richest commodity will be your cadaver. But really, your body is already a commodity. You could sell your corneas for roughly AUD$6,000, your heart for around AUD$60,000, a kidney for AUD$30,000 and your lungs for almost AUD$100,000. With dwindling resources your cadaver will become even more valuable. When one considers the complex make up of the human body doesn’t it seems a shame to put it in the ground or burn it? By some estimates your body may be worth around AUD$604,000.

Your body will be an investment to be inherited by your family and the value of your product, your cadaver, depends on the investment made during your lifetime. Over your lifetime you generate a medical record to ensure your ongoing maintenance. At death your medical record will become your product description.

Cadavers also represent a low embodied energy material due to minimal freight costs. The more populous areas, requiring more resources, have the greatest number of cadavers being produced everyday. An opportune balance.

(Sources - BBC & Wikipedia)

(Thanks to Sophia Pavlovski-Ross @SPavlovskiRoss)

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