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The Woodland Cemetery: Toward a Spiritual Landscape

The Woodland Cemetery: Toward a Spiritual Landscape

In this monograph on Stockholm's Woodland Cemetery (1915-61), Caroline Constant examines the cemetery's design in light of the unique fusion of social and political forces that shaped this important manifestation of modern Swedish culture.

In their collaborative effort, architects Erik Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz forged a new kind of memorial ground, using landscape as their essential point of departure. Reacting against the prevalent northern European idea of a cemetery as a garden of rest, they relied primarily on enhancing attributes of the site -- hill and valley, earth and sky, forest and clearing, meadow and marsh -- to evoke associations of death and rebirth in a landscape of spiritual dimension.

The Woodland Cemetery was the first of a series of cemeteries developed in Sweden during the first half of the twentieth century as part of a concerted public initiative for burial reform. Caroline Constant examines this reform movement and the lengthy process that brought its attendant social concerns into focus in the Woodland Cemetery and its buildings: Asplund's Woodland Chapel (1918-21), workers' building (1922-24) and crematorium complex (1935-40), and Lewerentz's Resurrection Chapel (1921-25), as well as his extensive contributions to the cemetery landscape. Relating the Woodland Cemetery to further cemetery designs by Asplund and Lewerentz, she reveals how the architects affirmed the sacred potential of each site, eliciting deeper levels of meaning through recourse to the spiritual possibilities of landscape.

Authors: Caroline Constant
Published: Byggförlaget, Stockholm (1994)
ISBN: 91-7988-060-6