The Woodland Cemetery - Stockholm


Location: Gamla Enskede, Stockholm
Architects: Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz.
Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor AB (New Crematorium).
Construction: 1917-1940. 2014.

In 1914 an international competition for designing a new cemetery for the city of Stockholm was announced. The brief asked for a new type of cemetery design that had its point of departure in the natural landscape, contrary to the pompous tombs and avenues of the traditional graveyards. They were looking for a harmonious mix between architecture and nature were the full power and beauty of both could coexist, without one giving way for nor stepping on the other.

In total 53 proposals were submitted. Due to the start of WWI on July 28, 1914 most of the proposals were from Swedish architects who were not affected by the war.

The competition was won by the 30 year old architects, Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz who before had studied together.

Asplund had spent the spring of 1914 in Italy and was fascinated by the temples and their relation to the landscape. He wrote in his diary ”The temple needs the height, the effort to get there grows the reverence”.

It’s evident the design of the cemetery was in some ways inspired by this trip, however the Woodland Cemetery is something completely unique. This is, I think, when Nordic architecture is at its best, inspired by the world but filtered and interpreted through a Nordic point of view.

The construction of the Cemetery began in 1917 and it was inaugurated in 1920. However construction of the buildings would continue until 1940. With the Woodland Chapel and the Visitor Center designed by Asplund completed in 1920 and 1923, the Chapel of Resurrection designed by Lewerentz completed in 1925 and finally the Woodland Crematorium designed by Asplund completed in 1940. Asplund died only four months after the opening of the crematorium and is buried on the cemetery.

In 2009 a restricted competition to design a new crematorium was held. The participants included Tadao Ando Architects, BIG, Caruso St John Architects, White and was won by Swedish practice Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor AB with the proposal “A stone in the woods”. The New Crematorium was completed in 2014.

Site Plan    -     1. Entrance  2. The Woodland Crematorium  3. The New Crematorium  4. The Woodland Chapel  5. Visitor Center  6. The Chapel of Resurrection

The Woodland Crematorium, Asplund, 1940.

The Woodland Chapel, Asplund, 1920.

The Chapel of Resurrection, Lewerentz, 1925.

The New Crematorium, 2014.



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