Cemetery in the forest

...blending nature and architecture into a seamless whole.
...blending nature and architecture into a seamless whole.

Winning a competition

Skogskyrkogården's history begins at the beginning of the 1900s, when it became apparent that Stockholm's cemeteries were insufficient and needed complementing. In 1912 Stockholm City Council acquired a tract of former gravel pits overgrown with pine trees for the purpose of creating a new cemetery and organized an international architectural competition for its design. The competition was won by two 30-year old Swedish architects, Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz.

Ancient Nordic archetype

Unlike most cemetery designs at the time, there was no rigid structure to the layout of this new cemetery. It acquiesced to the elements of the landscape, rather than bending the ground to its will. We could say that the cemetery design evoked a more primitive imagery. In fact, Asplund and Lewerentz found influence in ancient and medieval Nordic burial archetype, their culture and symbols.

The intervention of footpaths, meandering freely through the woodland, is minimal. Graves are laid out without excessive alignment or regimentation within the forest. The rejection of discipline in the design was, in some ways, a rejection of the idea of industrialisation that was taking hold in Sweden at the time. Those buried were symbolically saved from the cities and returned to a primordial landscape. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Today, Skogskyrkogården (literally "Woodland Cemetery") is considered one of the most important creations of modern architecture. The success with which Asplund and Lewerentz integrated natural with artistic and architectural values gives this cemetery an outstanding independent cultural significance. Considered to be of the highest artistic quality, Skogskyrkogården has had a profound influence on cemetery design in many countries of the world and is even inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Do you know?

Do you know any other cemetery that is known for its connection with nature? A cemetery that is integrated into a forest, a park or a meadow? A cemetery that is interesting because of its unusual vegetation, water areas or something completely different? Contact us and let us know.

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