How might landscapes be better designed to accommodate increasing cremation practices in Europe?

Keywords: funerary landscape, cemetery landscape, crematorium, design solutions, guidelines, bereavement


Death is one of those universal parameters of life, yet very little attention is given to it in neither the work of planning practitioners nor that of landscape research. During the 19th and 20th century’s many Western societies turned to cremation as a more sanitary, less costly and space saving way of human disposal. This paper highlights the cemeteries and crematoria as two types of facilities associated with cremation practices in Poland and in selected European countries. On the basis of analyses of contemporary funerary landscapes for cremation practices from Europe (31 objects from 9 countries) a catalog (‚pattern book‘) of design solutions was developed. Countries were selected on the basis of similarity to Poland in the aspect of the dominant religion (Austria, France, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia), convergent provisions of cemetery and funeral law (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Slovenia, Sweden), and index of average population served by 1 crematorium (Belgium). Moreover, assessment of Polish contemporary places for cremation (39 objects) was developed. To strengthen the multifaceted meaning of funerary landscape and to link it more with the landscape, design considerations and potential outcomes for improved cemetery design accommodating cremation practices and burial was developed. The funerary landscape is defined as a specific type of landscape that focuses on the phenomenological relation between death, disposal of the body in the environment and the social memory of the group participating in the remembrance of the burial.


Dee, C. 2001. Form and fabric in landscape architecture: A visual introduction, London – New York, Spon Press. Taylor & Francis Group.

Dexeus, A. 2015. The bones of our ancestors. The end of burials in churches in the late 18th century. Contributions to Science 11, 85-94. DOI:10.2436/20.7010.01.216

Długozima, A. 2014. Miejsce i rola cmentarzy w budowaniu krajobrazu sakralnego wsi, na przykładzie Bieszczadów i Warmii (Place and role of the cemeteries in sacred rural landscape creation, on the example of the Bieszczady and Warmia). Teka Kom. Arch. Urb. Stud. Krajobr. – OL PAN X/1, 5-19.

Długozima A., 2017. Miejski krajobraz funeralny: jak projektować miejsca dedykowane śmierci, by sprzyjały terapii, regeneracji i integracji? (Urban funeral landscape. How to design sites dedicated to death for the purpose of therapy, regeneration and integration?). In: Januchta-Szostak A., Banach M. (eds) Człowiek-Ekologia-Architektura. Regeneracja Miasta. Poznań, Wydawnictwo Politechniki Poznańskiej, 97-108.

Długozima, A.; Kosiacka-Beck, E. 2020. How to Enhance the Environmental Values of Contemporary Cemeteries in an Urban Context, Sustainability, 12(6), 2374. DOI:10.3390/su12062374

Dziewulak, D. 2012. Pochówek skremowanych prochów ludzkich na cmentarzach lub w innych miejscach w wybranych państwach Unii Europejskiej oraz w Australii, Kanadzie i USA (Burial of cremated human remains in cemeteries and other places in selected EU countries, Australia, Canada and the United States). BAS. Biuro Analiz Sejmowych 13 (80), 1-8.

Eassie, W. 1875. Cremation of the dead. Its history and bearings upon public health. London, Smith and Elder.

Eliade, M. 1957. The sacred and the profane. The nature of religion. San Diego – New York – London, Harcourt Brace & Company.

Eriksson, P. 2010. Land for the Dead: Access to and Evolvement of Necral Land in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Accessed: 21.12.2019).

Etlin, R. 1984. The architecture of death: the transformation of the cemetery in eighteenth-century Paris. Cambridge, MIT Press.

Gajewska, M. 2009. Prochy i diamenty. Kremacja ciała zmarłego człowieka jako zjawisko społeczne i kulturowe (Ashes and diamonds. Cremation of the body as a social and cultural phenomenon). Kraków, Nomos.

Goyvaerts, S.; Vande Keere, N. 2020. Liturgy and Landscape—Re-Activating Christian Funeral Rites through Adaptive Reuse of a Rural Church and Its Surroundings as a Columbarium and Urn Cemetery. Religions 11(8), 1-13. DOI:10.3390/rel11080407

Grof, S.; Halifax, J. 1977. The Human Encounter with Death. New York, Dutton.

Hadders, H. 2013. Cremation in Norway: Regulation, changes and challenges. Mortality 18 (20), 195-213. DOI:10.1080/13576275.2013.786033

Hamilton, K. 2006. Evidence based design and the art of healing. In: Wagenaar C. (ed) The architecture of hospitals. Rotterdam, Nai Publishers, 271-280.

Hermann, H. 2005. On the transcendent in landscapes of contemplation. In: Krinke R. (ed) Contemporary landscapes of contemplation. London, Routledge, 36-72. DOI:10.4324/9780203462089

Higgins, J.F. 2010. Deathscapes: designing contemporary landscapes to solve modern issues in cemeteries. (Accessed: 22.12.2019).

Howarth G., 2007. Death & Dying: A sociological introduction. Cambridge, Polity Press.

Hultquist A. M., 2013. Dead Space. (Accessed: 21.12.2019).

Humprey, C.; Vitebsky, P. 1997. Sacred architecture. Boston, Little, Brown & Co.

Hupková, M. 2010. Spatial differentiation of necrogeographical aspects in Czechia: Causes, consequences and features in landscape. Folia geographica 15, 27–42.

Hupková, M. 2014. The link between the popularity of cremation in the Czech Republic and religious faith. Prace Geograficzne 137, 69-90.

Idem, R. 2015. Tanatoarchitektura [=] Thanatoarchitecture. In: Idem R., Gębczyńska-Janowicz A. (eds) Architektura służby zdrowia. Problematyka projektowa. Gdańsk, Wydawnictwo Politechniki Gdańskiej, 131-144.

Javeau, C. 2001. The re-ritualization of cremation ceremonies in Belgium. Mortality 6 (3), 245-246. DOI:10.1080/13576270127018

Jupp, P.C. 1980. From Dust to Ashes: the Replacement of Burial by Cremation in England 1840–1967. London, Congregational Memorial Hall Trust.

Jupp, P.C. 2005. From Dust to Ashes. Cremation and the British Way of Death. London, Palgrave Macmillan. DOI:10.1057/9780230511088

Keddemann, S. 2011. Funerary places: between emotion and design. The essence of cemetery and crematorium design. (Accessed: 15.10.2020).

Kellehear, A. 1984. Are we a ’death-denying’ society? A sociological review. Social Science and Medicine 18, 713–723.

Kerrigan, M. 2007. The History of Death: Burial Customs and Funeral Rites, from the Ancient World to Modern Times. Guildford, Connecticut, Lyons Press.

Klaassens, M.; Groote, P. 2012. Designing a place for goodbye: The architecture of crematoria in the Netherlands. In: Davies D., Park C. (eds) Emotion, identity and death: Mortality across disciplines. London, Ashgate Publishing, 145-159.

Klaassens, M.; Groote, P. 2014. Postmodern crematoria in the Netherlands: A search for a final sense of place. Mortality 19 (1), 1–21. DOI:10.1080/13576275.2013.843511

Kok, H.L.; Wille, A. & Boerhof, G. 1994. Begraven & begraafplaatsen, monumenten van ons bestaan. Utrecht, Stichting Teleac.

Kong, L. 1999. Cemetaries and columbaria, memorials and mausoleums: narrative and interpretation in the study of deathscapes in geography. Australian Geographical Studies 37, 1-10. DOI:10.1111/1467-8470.00061

Krinke, R. 2005. Contemplative landscapes, restorative landscapes. In: Krinke R. (ed) Contemporary landscapes of contemplation. London, Routledge, 107-138. DOI:10.4324/9780203462089

Laqueur, T. 2015. The Work of The Dead. A cultural history of mortal remains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Leaney, J. 1989. Ashes to Ashes: Cremation and the Celebration of Death in Nineteenth-Century Britain. In: Houlbrooke R. (ed) Death, Ritual and Bereavement. London-New York, Routledge, 118-135.

Lewicka, B. 2017. Nekropolie. Socjologiczne stadium cmentarzy Katowic (Necropolis. Sociological Study oft he Cemeteries of Katowice). Katowice, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego.

Maddrell, A.; Sidaway, J.D. 2010. Deathscapes: Spaces for death, dying, mourning and remembrance. Farnham, Ashgate Publishing.

Maddrell, A.; Beebeejaun, Y.; McClymont, K.; Mathijssen, B.; McNally, D. & Abid Dogra, S. 2018. Diversity-Ready Cemeteries and Crematoria in England and Wales: Briefing Note. (Accessed: 20.01.2020).

Mathijssen, B. 2017. The ambiguity of human ashes: Exploring encounters with cremated remains in the Netherlands. Death Studies 41, 34–41. DOI:10.1080/07481187.2016.1257882

Mathijssen, B; Venhorst, C. 2019. Funerary Practices in the Netherlands. Emerald Publishin Limited. DOI:10.1108/9781787698734

Fry, E.M. 1969. The Design of Crematoria. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 117, 256-268.

McCoyd, J.L.M.; Walter, C.A. 2016. Grief and Loss Across the Lifespam. New York, Springer Publishing Company LLC.

Mitrione, S.; Larson, J. 2007. Healing by Design: Healing Gardens and Therapeutic Landscapes. Implications 2(10), 1-6.

Moon, B. (ed) 1991. An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism. The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. Boston, Shambhala Publications Inc.

Nešporová, O. 2007. Believer Perspectives on Death and Funeral Practices in a Non-believing Country. Sociologický časopis/Czech Sociological Review 43, 1175–1193.

Nešporová, O. 2020. Funerary Practices in Czech Republic. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Palánová, K.; Kovář, J.; Babor, T.; Dlábiková, I. & Juračka, O. 2015. Requirements for cremation architecture in contemporary secularized society. Requisiti per l’architettura della cremazione nella contemporanea società laica IN_BO. Ricerche e progetti per il territorio, la città e l’architettura. 6, 150-158.

Parsons, B. 2003. The funeral and the funeral industry in the United Kingdom. In: Bryant, C.D. (ed) Handbook of death and dying. Thousand Oaks, SAGE, 611-618.

Pham, H. 2014. RE-DESIGNING DEATH An Expression of the Human Bereavement Process through Crematoria Design. (Accessed: 03.06.2020).

UN-Habitat, 2009. Planning Sustainable Cities – Global Report on Human Settlements, Part I. Challenges and context. (Accessed: 11.09.2019).

Polish Classification of Buildings Facilities (Polska Klasyfikacja Obiektów Budowlanych), 1999. Journal of Laws of 1999, No. 112, item 1316. (Accessed: 30.12.2019).

Prothero, S. R. 2001. Purified by fire: a history of cremation in America. Berkeley, University of California Press.

Rebay-Salisbury, K. 2013. Inhumation and cremation: how burial practices are linked to beliefs. In: Sørensen M.L.S., Rebay-Salisbury K. (eds) Embodied Knowledge: Historical Perspectives on Belief and Technology. Oxford, Oakville, Oxbow Books, 15-26. DOI:10.2307/J.CTVH1DX2T.5

Regulation of the Council of Ministers on the definition of types of projects that may significantly affect the environment (Rozporządzenie Rady Ministrów w sprawie określania rodzajów przedsięwzięć mogących znacząco oddziaływać na środowisko), 2004. (Accessed: 20.12.2019).

Regulation of the Council of Ministers on the definition of types of projects that may significantly affect the environment (Rozporządzenie Rady Ministrów w sprawie określania rodzajów przedsięwzięć mogących znacząco oddziaływać na środowisko), 2010. (Accessed: 20.12. 2019).

Ronnberg, A.; Martin, K. (eds) 2010. The book of symbols: Reflections on archetypal images. Cologne, Taschen.

Rugg, J. 2006. Lawn cemeteries: the emergence of a new landscape of death. Urban History 33(2), 213 – 233. DOI:10.1017/S0963926806003786

Rugg, J.; Parsons, B. 2018. Funerary Practices in England and Wales. Emerald Publishing Limited. DOI:10.1108/978-1-78769-223-720181010

Sanders, C. 1999. Grief: The Mourning After. Dealing with Adult Bereavement. New York, John Wiley & Sons.

Supreme Audit Office/Najwyższa Izba Kontroli, 2016. Zarządzanie cmentarzami komunalnymi (Municipal cemeteries management).,12230,vp,14613.pdf (Accessed: 21.12.2019).

Stępa, T. 1993. Przestrzenne aspekty kremacji (Spatial aspects of cremation). (Accessed: 21.10.2019).

Suchecki, Z. 2009. Kremacja w kulturach świata (Cremation in world cultures). Kraków, Wydawnictwo Salwator.

Svobodová, M. 2013. The Crematorium in the Process of Secularisation in the Czech Lands in the Twentieth Century (Krematorium v procesu sekularizace českých zemí 20. století) Praha, The Czech Academy of Sciences.

Swanson, J. 2017. New Funerary Architecture. Creating Culturally Adaptive Ritual Spaces. (Accessed: 30.11.2019).

Szukalski, J. 2016. Liczba zgonów w Polsce w przyszłości (Number of deaths in Poland in the future). Demografia i Gerontologia Społeczna – Biuletyn Informacyjny 3, 1-4.

Teather, E.K. 1998. Themes from complex landscapes: Chinese cemeteries and columbaria in urban Hong Kong Australian Geographical Studies 36, 21-36. DOI:10.1111/1467-8470.00037

Teather, E.K. 1999. High-rise homes for the ancestors: Cremation in Hong Kong Geographical Review 89, 409 - 430. DOI:10.2307/216158

Thomas, L.V. 1980. Le cadavre. De la biologie a l’anthropologie. Bruxelles, Editions Complexe.

UNESCO, 1972. World Heritage Convention. Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage adopted by the General Conference at its seventeenth session Paris, 16th November 1972, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Paris.

Valentijn, V.; Verhoeven, K. 2018. Goodbye Architecture. The Architecture of Crematoria in Europe. (Accessed: 30.11.2019).

Van Steen, P.J.M.; Pellenbarg, P.H. 2006. Death and space in the Netherlands Journal of Economic and Social Geography 97, 623-635. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9663.2006.00369.x

Vovelle, M. 1983. La mort et l'Occident de 1300 à nos jours. Paris, Gallimard.

Walter, T. 1991. Modern death: Taboo or not taboo? Sociology 25, 293–310. DOI:10.1177/0038038591025002009

Walter, T. 2012. Why different countries manage death differently: a comparative analysis of modern urban societies. The British Journal of Sociology 63, 123-145. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-4446.2011.01396.x

Ward, D. 2010. The Healing Landscape. Planning the ‘Nature’ in Your Cemetery. Catholic Cemetery Magazine 3, 24-25.

Wasserman, J. 2002. Memory embedded. Landscape Journal 21/1, 190-200.

Welch, J.W.; Parry, D.W. (eds) 2011. The tree of life: From Eden to Eternity. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book.

Williams, H. 2011. Cremation and present pasts: A contemporary archaeology of Swedish memory groves. Mortality 16 (2), 113-130.

Worpole, K. 2003. Last Landscapes. The Architecture of the Cemetery in the West. London, Reaktion Books.

Wylie, J. 2007. Landscape. New York, Routledge.

How to Cite
Długozima, A. How Might Landscapes Be Better Designed to Accommodate Increasing Cremation Practices in Europe?. LO 2020, 87, 1-31.
Research Article