I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”
I decide that Woodland Cemetery is the first blog in my upcoming “Living Stockholm” series, because……because of a few reasons. Firstly it is one of the three, and the youngest UNESCO sites of culture heritage in Stockholm, a representative masterpiece of modern Swedish architecture. Secondly, a cemetery should not be the Stygian theme that people refrain from talking about, or at least the Woodland Cemetery is not. When I pushed open the door at the Woodland Chapel, the world in front of me was immediately lit up by the soft, warm radiation from the sun.
Simply taking the green-line metro towards Farsta Strand, Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogården) is 9th station from T-Centralen. Today I am not alone: as I registered for the guided tour, I will walk with a group of about 15 tourists and our guide.
“Landskapet”, the Landscape
“Landskapet” is the most frequent word when one describes Woodland Cemetery. In 1910s, the site is a rural landscape covered by overgrown pines and spruces; a hundred years, a large part of Woodland Cemetery is still a landscape of spines and spruces, mottled with a few chapels, perforated by several paths that have always more pine nuts than footprints.
The concept of making use of the existing landscape proposed by local architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz, won them the international contest that sought a design for a new cemetery site and Southern Stockholm. Although there are a few amendments in the original design, Woodland Cemetery remains to be what Asplund and Lewerentz wanted us to see, to experience and to contemplate: a barely touched landscape with immense beauty, a place which has magical healing power, and a cemetery for all.
A cemetery for all
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