Johanna Lindroth and Kate O'Connor 2021

KTH Stockholm, Sweden

‘In the boundless realm of unending change’: planning for cemeteries in an urban context as envisioned through scenarios

Cemeteries are an integral part of the cityscape, which as a societal function are responsible for the interment of the deceased in a dignified manner. They are imbued with cultural, historical, religious and emotional significance – as a site for grief, reflection and contemplation they also have a significant physical presence in the city. Cemeteries are a somewhat hidden issue in urban planning in Sweden today, but as a land intensive development that locks the land from future reuse it is paramount that the complexity is examined. The Burial Act (SFS 1990:1144) governs burial practice and the organisational structure of cemeteries in Sweden, creating an interesting set of conditions. The thesis uses two case studies, that of Järva cemetery in Stockholm as inspiration for current cemetery planning and, the case of Gothenburg to examine how to plan for future cemeteries that are socially just. Data is collected through interviews, the results of which indicate the multifaceted nature of planning for cemeteries. Scenario planning is subsequently utilized as a tool to explore planning a future cemetery in Gothenburg, which as a growing city, is faced with a shortage of burial space in the coming decade combined with questions of land competition. A scenario analysis is carried out using a social justice theoretical framework to illuminate how a socially just cemetery development can be established and the potential challenges regarding this. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the analysis and provides recommendations for future cemetery planning in Gothenburg.


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract