Katrina Spade

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Katrina Spade

2014 Climate Fellow
Founder of Urban Death Project

Katrina Spade 2014 Climate Fellow

Bold Idea 

Create a meaningful, equitable, and ecological alternative to existing options for the care and processing of the deceased by building urban body composting centers.



The Urban Death Project is a new system for the disposal of our dead in cities. The project utilizes the science of composting to safely and sustainably turn bodies into soil-building material, which is then used by nearby farms and community gardens. The Urban Death Project is transforming an industry where wasteful, polluting disposal practices are the status quo. Envisioned as a place to honor the dead at a neighborhood scale, the project supports sustainable cities by engaging inhabitants in issues of soil heath, resource depletion, and climate change.


Katrina Spade is the founder and executive director of the Urban Death Project, a new system for gently and sustainably disposing of the dead using the process of composting. Katrina has focused her design career on creating human-centered, ecological, architectural solutions. Prior to architecture school, she studied sustainable design and building at Yestermorrow Design Build School, with a focus on regenerative communities and renewable energy. While earning her Masters of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she worked with the Facilities Planning Department to develop sustainable design guidelines for all new construction and major renovations on campus. Also during her graduate student tenure, she received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to build and monitor a compost heating system, a project which helped initiate the Urban Death Project. Katrina earned a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As a graduate student, she received the AIA Henry Adams Medal and the Western MA AIA Graduate Student Scholarship for her work.

Learn More
  • 2014
  • Climate Fellow

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