Dezeen Magazine

Sarco by Philip Nitschke

Philip Nitschke's 3D-printed "death pod" lets users die at the press of a button

Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has created a 3D-printed suicide machine that allows users to administer their own death in a matter of minutes.

Called Sarco, the futuristic-looking machine features a coffin-like sealed pod with transparent panels. It sits on top of a raised platform that leans at an angle.

By pressing a button on the inside of the pod the machine floods with liquid nitrogen, an unregulated substance that can be easily purchased.

This lowers the oxygen level within the capsule, making the user feel "slightly tipsy" before falling unconscious and ultimately, dying.

Users must pass mental capacity test

Although users must pass an artificial intelligence-powered test to determine their mental capacity to open the hatch, details of the test are not specified.

According to Nitschke, the aim of the machine – which was premiered at this year's Venice Biennale – is to "allow rational adults the option of a peaceful, elective and lawful death in an elegant and stylish environment".

The machine is portable, meaning it can be moved to the user's desired location.

"You can tow it off and have it overlooking the Alps or the lakes. When you're ready you say goodbye, use the code to get in, pull down the canopy, press a button and you die in a few minutes. It's a very peaceful death," he explained.

Detachable design functions as a coffin

The pod itself is biodegradable and can be detached from the bottom platform to be used as a coffin for burial or cremation.

"I'm not suggesting Sarco is everybody's cup of tea but it seems to be a lot of people's cup of tea," said Nitschke. "This is the most important day of your life, the day you die. It is something not to be hidden, it should be eloquent and beautiful."

Sarco was on display at the Palazzo Michiel at the Venice Biennale earlier this month.

An increasing number of designers are reshaping how we think about burial. Shaina Garfield has created an eco-friendly coffin that uses fungus to biodegrade the body so that it decomposes quickly and fertilises the surrounding soil.

Another option is Capsula Mundi, an egg-shaped pod for the deceased that offers an alternative to traditional burial methods.