Editor's note

Very minimal but at the same time precise, fitting and effective interventions make this cemetery renovation an interesting project. Each added feature makes sense and contributes to the experience. The distinction between the ‘restored’ and ‘added’ is readable. Also the contrast between subtle approach to heritage and quiet radicalism remind of the works by Michael van Gessel and his work at Twickel estate. relais has definitely proven that they can operate in delicate ambiences with excellence and grace.

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The theme of temporality, which is omnipresent in landscape architecture, has a great influence with regard to the way historic cemeteries are dealt with. As great as their significance and effect has been on history, ageing and the preservation of memory, a cemetery’s functionality must also be based on current sepulchral culture and maintenance capacities. relais Landscape Architects’ project for the Kapellenberg at the Luisenkirchhof III cemetery in Berlin-Charlottenburg is very much embedded in this field of tension between growth and decay, yesterday and today. The cemetery, which was built in 1905 on the eastern slopes of the so-called Spandauer Berg according to the plans of Otto Vogeler, was built in several stages as a monumental cemetery using tree-lined avenues as a main element. In his design, Vogeler particularly emphasised the walk up to the cemetery’s chapel by creating a series of ornamental squares lined with flowerbeds. This type of layout, with its careful differentiation of cemetery structure, was largely forgotten in the second half of the 20th century.

© relais

© relais

The redesign of the cemetery was constructed between 2013 and 2015 in two phases. The aim of relais Landscape Architects with regard to the Kapellenberg was to make the original design intention and organisational structure of the Luisenkirchhof, which is now a listed site, more tangible. An essential aspect of this was to reconcile the conflict between the main avenue’s transport functions and the cemetery’s historic preservation, arboricultural and aesthetic requirements.

The new concept restored the lost contours of the historical sequence at the Kapellenberg. Missing trees along the avenues were complemented with new plantings and the avenue was graded and paved with small-format natural stones in order to provide accessibility for motorised vehicles. The entrance area and the Rondellplatz and Kapellenplatz squares were improved and developed along the lines of the original cemetery concept in order to recreate a more inviting atmosphere.

Due to existing sources of information about the cemetery, as well as its present condition, these measures were not undertaken in order to reconstruct a former state of the cemetery, but instead to provide a reinterpretation of verifiable design themes and planting designs while making the new layer of design recognisable. These ideas were implemented in all three areas through the use of differentiated ornamental hedges and perennials that reinforce the design coherence of the avenues. This allowed the main structure of the cemetery, it’s spatial quality and various furnishings to be rediscovered and emphasised. A pool with a small fountain was added to the centre of the Rondellplatz, which provides a pleasant acoustic alternative to traffic noises from the adjacent streets. In addition, a well was built near the Kapellenplatz and original paving stones found during the construction process were integrated into the final design.


Landscape Architecture: relais Landschaftsarchitekten
Project: Luisenkirchhof III Cemetery
Location: Berlin-Charlottenburg
Client: Luisenkirchhof parish administration
Completion: September 2015
Area: 3,800 m²
Photos: Hanns Joosten, Stefan Müller

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