The landscape and pine forest have always been the heart of the Woodland Cemetery. The city’s purchase of the land included a commercial plantation of uniformly straight, tall-crowned pines. They form a unique forest, carefully managed and rejuvenated from the forest’s own seed. Pines grow slowly and need light.
The Landscape Park
Tallum, the winning proposal was partly inspired by the English park: winding paths, hills and dales, light and shadow, varied vistas, foliage and details. The concept emerged in the 18th century, breaking with the traditional symmetrical garden ideal. The criteria included soft, natural forms with copses and luxuriant foliage, and curiosities such as ruins, caves, statues, gazebos or exotic plants.
Tallum’s dynamic harmonises with the life-death-life interplay, the light-to-darkness journey. The burial area is discreet and nature diversity dominant – a place for the living to enjoy.
Progress of the Landscape
The architects had to revise their plans, redirecting paths, changing burial sections and simplifying the landscaping. In the 1920s the burial areas were realigned and trees culled to give the pines more prominence. Weeping willows, weeping ash, golden rain, lilacs, silver poplars and other deciduous trees were planted to lend “variety and colour to the sombreness of the conifer forest”.
Seven Wells Way
The impressive procession path was in the original competition proposal but the seven wells were never installed.
Almhöjden (Elm Hill) was never a burial area but simply a place to rest. Lewerentz designed the wall with the elms and the gentle ‘donkey stairs’ around 1935. It was his last contribution before being released from the Woodlands project.
Ceremonial Site and Dam
An outdoor ceremonial site is traditional for many cemeteries. Asplund designed a modern version with a catafalque, gas lanterns and a paved gathering place. The lily pond mirrors the sky, Almhöjden and the Monument Hall.
Lewerentz planted a straight row of birches as a transition between the open landscape and the darkness of the pine forest — a kind of living architecture.
In the 1950s, Lewerentz was brought back to create Stockholm’s first remembrance garden. It was inaugurated in November 1961, using less tended parts of the hill and forest.
In around 1935, the landscaping, chiefly designed by Sigurd Lewerentz, was mostly finished. In the 1960s, 13 additional hectares were acquired to the south. The area was laid out by Jan Wahlman and inaugurated in 1972, with sections for different religious beliefs.
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.