After the Woodland Chapel, a larger chapel and another mortuary were needed. Planned expansion to the south meant that the best site was at the end of The Way of Seven Wells. The chapel became the perfect backdrop to the almost 900-metre-long processional route with its impressive outlook.
Sigurd Lewerentz was given the commission for the southern chapel. Lewerentz was famously reticent and we know very little of his vision. A glimpse of what captivated him comes from photographs taken on his travels as a young architect.
Lewerentz made many different sketches for chapels and mortuaries. Construction work was marked by his way of laboriously conceiving the building in situ without a final blueprint — an unfamiliar method not appreciated by the builders.
The southern chapel is special: long, narrow and tall, in brick, concrete and limestone — a completely different experience to the Woodland Chapel. Its neo-classicist austerity is balanced by an enigmatic irregularity and personal interpretations of details from architectural history. The floor is of exclusive Italian Carrara marble — as for all the chapels, it can be a point to gaze at, to rest one’s eyes on when overcome by emotion.
The chapel has a few distinct symbols — crosses and candlesticks — which can be screened off. The frieze by Karl Dahlqvist over the altar incorporates a sleeping figure, inspired by the twins of Greek mythology, Hypnos (sleep) and Thanatos (death). A sculpture group, The Resurrection, by Ivar Johnson for the entrance provided the name for the chapel.
The vestry was fitted with custom designed furniture, several pieces of which are now in the Visitors Centre.
After delays, the Resurrection Chapel was inaugurated on 15 December 1925. Now, instead of a mortuary, there were more pertinent viewing rooms with daylight as well as a small, modern semi-circular waiting room. Reactions to the chapel were mixed; it was seen to be dignified and ceremonious, but also “un-Swedish” and hard to interpret.
The Resurrection Chapel is exceptional, leaving few people unmoved. Despite its unusual form and decor the chapel has a circular concept — we move from life and light into solemnity and darkness to take our farewells, and later onward to new life and light.
The Woodland Cemetery 100 years
Skogskyrkogården, The Woodland Cemetery, celebrates its 100th anniversary with a new outdoor exhibition. September 19—November 1, 2020. Free admission.