Graveyards are not just burial places. Many of these spaces are also used for contemplative walks in the context of cultural witnessing. They are scenic as well as being ecologically rich. Many cemeteries today are under a great deal of economic pressure. The question arises whether the potential of these „secondary“ uses and qualities can help to make these burial places more attractive. At the Luisenstädtischer Cemetery in Berlin-Kreuzberg, only a few grave sites are currently being maintained on a total area of 2,6 hectares. There was no longer any demand for new burials in the recent years. In contrast, this graveyard has gained a lot of public interest. It is to be preserved as a garden monument and it has a great ecological importance due to its wealth of structures. The cemetery is appreciated by its residents as an open space which has a special atmosphere, characterized by nature, culture, tranquility and transience.
Our design concept is to develop the Luisenstädtischer Cemetery as a cultural, ecological and social space in its urban context. For this purpose, the existing structures and qualities were strengthened and a maintenance program was established. Graves without monument protection and without grave rights were removed. A key part of the project is to strengthen the vegetation structure. Due to this, the closed structure of the avenue plantings was restored.
As well as the regular structure of the main paths, a system of lawn paths and mowed areas has been created which follow the existing topography. The uniformly textured lawns contrast with the richly structured, nuanced meadow spaces of the cemetery. In this way, the quality of these meadows is highlighted.
The structure of these meadows and lawns is used to formulate outdoor spaces. A variety of seats are offered which can be used for recreation, outdoor funerals and events. A flat “water mirror” – a rainwater bowl – was created in one of the clearings to accentuate the atmosphere. It stages weather processes, offers a variety of intriguing perspectives with its reflective surface as well as having a positive effect on the microclimate.
This design concept offers a framework for new types of funerals. This design strengthens the graveyard as an open space. They can also contribute to the continued use of the Luisenstädtischer Cemetery and also to the preservation of the grounds.
Landscape Architecture: relais Landschaftsarchitekten
Project: Luisenstädtischer Cemetery
Project location: Berlin-Kreuzberg, Südstern 8–10
Client: Evangelischer Friedhofsverband Berlin Stadtmitte
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2019
Area: 26.000 m²
Photos: Stefan Müller