Skogskapellet cemetery chapel

Gunnar Asplund – Skogskyrkogården, 1917-1920

The Woodland Chapel (Skogskapellet in Swedish) is the cemetery's first and smallest chapel. It was designde by Gunnar Asplund and inaugurated in 1920.
When Stockholm cemeteries had to be expanded at the beginning of the 20th century, an international competition for architects was launched for a new cemetery, with the intention of guaranteeing the artistic quality, dignity and harmony of buildings and vegetation. This competition for Woodland Cemetery in southern Stockholm, the so-called Skogskyrkogården, was won by Erik Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz with their "Tallum" proposal.
In 1920 the first part of the cemetery and the modest chapel of the forest (Skogskapellet) by Erik Gunnar Asplund was completed.
Contrary to contemporary expectations, the chapel is not high but low and intimate, and is not in line with an axis, but is set in the forest. The Skogskapellet is located inside a sacred enclosure, surrounded by a low wall. The entrance to this area similar to a churchyard consists of a small porch, aligned with the entrance to the chapel.
The wooden chapel with its white walls is dominated by the large black roof.
The repairing nature of the shingle roof is intentionally emphasized. Topped with a tree trunk on the ridge, the roof without gutters is reminiscent of a Viking house. This roof covers not only the chapel, but also the front porch. The porch, intended for meetings before and after a service, is almost square and occupies almost half of the surface. The porch floor is paved in limestone, as is the interior of the building. The most important feature of the interior is the ceiling. The domed hemisphere is "excavated" from the hipped roof. A central circular skylight lets the light in from above.
Eight wooden columns are arranged in the shape of a ring and seem to support the dome. Some classic elements were used by Erik Gunnar Asplund. Particularly worth mentioning are the Doric wooden columns with simple capitals. The twelve columns of the portico are intended to represent the twelve apostles. The building evokes the image of a simple hut in the woods. The "Angel of Death" sculpture by Carl Milles is positioned on the edge of the roof. The iron doors were designed by Asplund himself.

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Skogskapellet cemetery chapel


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