Celebrating the dead, the Modernist way

Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm / Photo @ Skogskyrkogarden site

On the weekend that we had Halloween, All Saints Day, Dia de Muertos or some other sort of celebration of the dead wherever you are in the world, let’s take a look at the places people visit during these days: cemeteries. 

You probably don’t expect to find Modernism in cemeteries – places usually associated with religious art – and in my opinion, quite oppressive and full of reminders of sorrows and pain. 

However, there are some places around the world where you can find beautiful architecture that transforms the experience of visiting cemeteries into something less…unpleasant.


Skogskyrkogården – Stockholm, Sweden

Architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz projected the new cemetery in 1914 based on the idea of integration with the natural Nordic landscape. 

Graves are arranged between the pine forest, chapels integrated to the surroundings and a memorial garden invites contemplation.

In 1994, Skogskyrkogården entered the Unesco World Heritage list based on the criteria of innovation and influence in burial site design.


Tombra Brion – San Vito d’Altivole, Italy

Carlo Scarpa projected the extension of the municipal cemetery in 1968 and its construction finished in 1978, months before his death.

The site is a private burial site of the Brion family, also its commissioners.

Scarpa thought of a place that could comfort the living as well as home the death. He wanted to “approach death in a social and civic way”.

The result is a place that connects a chapel, the tombs and a memorial garden in concrete angular, sharp forms and makes use of light creating an almost meditating space.

Tomba Brion, San Vito D’Altivole / Photos 1-3.Nilton你耳吞 2.Luigi Tiriticco @ CreativeCommons


Communal Crematorium – Ringsted, Denmark

This Crematorium, projected in 2013 by the architecture studio Henning Larsen was built with flexibility in mind, both in function and to welcome all types of memorials.

Located in a large green area that can also be a park, it’s surrounded by nature.

The building with high ceilings, getting much natural light and the use of space diminish the sensation of confinement of regular crematoriums.

A quiet place where you can celebrate the dead in communion with the living.

Communal Crematorium, Ringsted / Photos Anders Sune Berg @ ArchDaily


Have you visited any of these beautiful cemeteries? 

Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t forget to share this article with someone you think might enjoy it too!

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