Highgate Cemetery bosses launch competitions as they look to produce ‘sustainable future’

Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery - Credit: Archant

Could you play a role in shaping Highgate Cemetery?

Martin Adeney, chair of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Martin Adeney, chair of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust. Picture: Highgate Cemetery - Credit: Archant

The Victorian cemetery’s management have launched competitions to find architects and landscape designers who are able to help safeguard its considerable heritage.

The cemetery is run by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust (FoHCT).

The two competitions see the FoHCT searching for teams who can produce proposals for a “landscape masterplan” and to “investigate projects to preserve and enhance the historic structures” at the cemetery.

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Dr Ian Dungavell, who runs Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Dr Ian Dungavell, who runs Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery - Credit: Archant

The FoHCT said issues with trees, climate change and general wear and tear were “undermining the historic landscape design and reducing biodiversity”, and it was time for some radical solutions.


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In both competitions entrants – who must be members of architectural and landscape design professional bodies – are expected to take into account the conservation plan completed in 2019.

Martin Adeney, chair of FoHCT, said: ‘We will be working with the local community, cemetery volunteers and experts so that the trees, paths, monuments and buildings will be better looked after, the cemetery will continue to function as an active burial ground and visiting will be easier and more rewarding.”

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He added: “We are seeking the most imaginative practitioners to work with us in developing a new landscape vision that can sensitively respond to the history and character of Highgate Cemetery.”

Jenny Russell, a grave-owner at Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Jenny Russell, a grave-owner at Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery - Credit: Archant

Cemetery director Dr Ian Dungavell told this newspaper: “This is what we’ve been working towards for some time. We’ve realised we need to get in the best minds to help us.”

Dr Dungavell explained that the point is to look to the future and how to keep the cemetery, complete with its unique history,

Jenny Russell, whose husband Bruce is buried at the cemetery, is among those to feature in a video explaining the move.

She said that while she looked forward to change, any alterations should preserve what is special about the cemetery.

“One of the most important things is that when you come here you feel welcome, the staff are terribly kind,” she said. “Preserving that is something incredibly important.”

Dr Dungavell added: “What we’re looking for is not a restoration of this place, so you won’t come back in ten years time and find a sparkling new Highgate Cemetery. We will be keeping that atmosphere of decay, that rough around the edges feel, while making sure it’s sustainable for the future.”

The first stage of the competitions, seeking proposals, will run until January 13. Then shortlisted groups in both the landscape design and architecture competitions will be asked to develop their designs between February 1 and March 24, including fee proposals.

The second phase will also involve public exhibitions of the designs.

For more details of the competitions and to view a video produced by the FoHCT, visit highgatecemetery.org/competitions

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