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Conserving and enhancing a world-famous Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is launching two open competitions to find the best talents in landscape design and architecture to conserve and enhance this world-famous site, the resting place of many well-known people.

Our 2019 Conservation Plan made clear that the Cemetery needed to adapt to the new demands of the twenty-first century. We are looking for a landscape vision that will provide a blueprint for managing the Cemetery over the next twenty-five years.

Whilst the Cemetery retains its enchanting atmosphere, its monuments are under threat from long-term decay and maturing self-seeded trees. The trees themselves are increasingly stressed by climate change and afflicted by new pests and diseases. More extreme weather is eroding gravel paths and overwhelming the historic drainage systems. All this is undermining the historic landscape design and reducing biodiversity.

Our aim is to ensure 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.

All ideas will need to respond sensitively to the historic landscape to ensure that the Cemetery remains a place of enchantment, whose carefully tended natural environment provides sanctuary for those buried there and their loved ones, as well as the thousands who visit.

The two competitions are open to landscape architects and to architects respectively, and multi-disciplinary landscape, architecture and design practices may choose to enter both competitions.

THE COMPETITIONS

LANDSCAPE COMPETITION

Highgate Cemetery is looking for the best team to produce a landscape masterplan to guide the development of the Cemetery over the next twenty-five years. The plan must preserve and enhance the qualities for which the Cemetery has been appreciated over generations while enabling it to meet the varied demands and expectations of the twenty-first century. It is open to everyone who is a qualified landscape architect registered with the Landscape Institute in the UK or the equivalent in their home country.

This is a two-stage competition and the tender process is being run through the In-Tend portal where interested companies can access the design brief and SSQ.

Click here to go to the portal

 

ARCHITECTURAL PROJECTS COMPETITION

Highgate Cemetery is looking for an architect-led multidisciplinary team to consider how to conserve historic structures and improve facilities at the Cemetery for visitors and staff. The competition is open to architects registered with the Architects Registration Board in the UK or the equivalent in their home country.

The successful team will be talented enough to produce exceptional quality of design and respectful enough for this to sit happily within the Grade 1 registered landscape and adjacent to the many listed structures.

This is a two-stage competition and the tender process is being run through the In-Tend portal where interested companies can access the full ITT, brief and SSQ.

Click here to go to the portal

A HISTORIC CEMETERY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Your questions answered

Why are you holding competitions?

Competitions can encourage innovative solutions and more creative ideas. They can even challenge a client’s own perceptions about their site and its potential. Highgate Cemetery’s competitions show our interest in thinking boldly and being open to the ideas of others.

Why do you need two competitions?

Through the Landscape Competition we will find practitioners in landscape design to develop a landscape masterplan for the site. Through the Architectural Projects Competition we will find an architect-led design team to investigate projects to improve facilities for staff and visitors and to preserve and enhance the historic structures.

How will the cemetery change?

The competitions will not result in a sudden transformation but will provide us with a road-map for developing and managing the Cemetery over the next twenty-five years. Our aim is 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.

Why do you need a landscape masterplan?

We face new challenges. Some monuments are under threat from long-term decay and maturing self-seeded trees, and many trees are afflicted by pests and diseases brought about by climate change. More extreme weather is eroding gravel paths and overwhelming the historic drainage systems. All this is undermining the historic landscape design and reducing biodiversity. The landscape masterplan will respond to these new challenges while respecting and enhancing the special character of the Cemetery.

What is the timescale for the Landscape Competition?

The Landscape Competition is in two-stages. Any registered landscape architect or practice can enter Stage 1, which closes on 13 January 2021. We will the draw up a shortlist of four landscape practices to develop an outline masterplan. These proposals will be exhibited for public comment. A single team will then be appointed by summer 2021 to develop their proposals further and create a landscape masterplan.

What is the Architectural Projects Competition about?

We need to improve our very limited facilities for grave owners, the 100,000 visitors we normally welcome each year, volunteers and staff, but all this must be done within an extremely constricted site. The restoration or repair and maintenance of our historic structures will not be forgotten, and we hope to be able to reinstate the lost pinnacles on our chapels.

What is the timescale for the Architectural Projects Competition?

The Architectural Projects Competition is in two stages. The first stage will evaluate the experience and approach of architect-led multidisciplinary firms in order to shortlist up to six teams to submit initial proposals at stage 2. Feasibility studies to help prioritise projects for the future would follow in summer 2021, once the team has been appointed.

When will work begin?

It will be some time before we start to see changes and they will take place gradually. Landscape works can begin once our landscape masterplan is completed in 2022. Architectural plans and works are likely to take longer to be finalised with works not anticipated until 2023.

Will the enchanting, overgrown character of the Cemetery change?

Highgate Cemetery has enchanted visitors since it opened in 1839 and will continue to do so. Its sometimes overgrown character and ramshackle monuments convey a sense of its history which the designers will be keen to retain. But the landscape masterplan will also mark a step away from the ‘managed neglect’ of more recent years to a programme of more active management to ensure that its special attraction is maintained.

Will any trees be removed as a result of these plans? What will replace them?

Many of the historic trees are coming to the end of their natural lives, and are being increasingly suppressed by the secondary ash woodland which has sprung up of its own accord. The landscape masterplan will provide for succession planting for these historic specimens, as well introducing new ornamental and native trees and shrubs. Diversification of species will increase bio-diversity and help safeguard against the impact of pests, diseases and climate change.

What new buildings might be appearing on the site?

The Architectural Projects Competition will explore opportunities to improve facilities for grave owners, volunteers, visitors and staff on this very constricted site. It is too early to say exactly what might eventuate or where, as this will only become clear as a result. However, our gardeners are working out of goods containers, and we know we need better disabled access. Any new structures would be the subject of public consultation through the planning process.

How can I have my say?

In Spring 2021 we will exhibit shortlisted entries in the Landscape Competition. We will be very keen to hear your comments on those before we select the successful firm to develop the final masterplan. This will be a great opportunity for people to voice their aspirations for the future of the Cemetery.

How much will it cost?

The cost will become clearer following the competitions which will look at the scale and feasibility of work. We can then set out our implementation plans for the next twenty-five years and work out how much it might all cost.

How will it be paid for?

Once we have the implementation plans, we will then be able to prioritise projects and fundraise accordingly. Potential applications to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and prudent use of our reserves will secure the Cemetery for the future.