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Highgate Cemetery Landscape and Architectural Project Competitions Finalists Announcement

Highgate Cemetery is delighted to announce the finalists in its Landscape and Architectural Project Competitions. The aim is to find the best talents in landscape design and architecture to conserve and enhance this world-famous site. 

In the competition briefs, we set out some of the challenges and opportunities for Highgate Cemetery posed by climate change, decay and evolving visitor expectations.  We asked competitors to respond sensitively to the historic landscape to ensure that the Cemetery remains a place of enchantment, so that the natural environment will continue to provide sanctuary for those buried there and their loved ones, as well as the thousands who visit.  

We want 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.

The Competition process

The competitions were announced in November 2020. We have now shortlisted four landscape and six architectural project teams.

We have chosen the teams which we thought best addressed the need to balance the requirements of a working cemetery, the cultural heritage and community needs with a growing number of visitors.

They will now develop their ideas before an online public exhibition of the Landscape Masterplan proposals in April and the final judging of both competitions.

A chance to share your thoughts

Landscape Masterplan

We will be inviting public comments on the Landscape Masterplan submissions through an online exhibition in April 2021. This is an opportunity to share your thoughts on the four proposals at early concept stage. They will be shared with the judging panel, who will chose the winning Landscape team. They will also be fed into the winning team, as they develop their plans further in the coming months.

This exhibition in April will be followed by a formal consultation on the final Landscape Masterplan from the winning team, later in 2022.

Architectural Projects

The selected Architectural teams will undertake further development and feasibility work. We will seek views on proposals at a later stage and through public consultation as part of the Planning process.

The winners of both Competitions will be announced in May 2021.

Timeline overview

Timeline Timeline


Find out more about the Cemetery and the need for this work in our short film.

We are delighted to have had a such a strong response to our Landscape and Architectural Project competitions. The winning teams will provide us with a landscape vision and blueprint for managing the Cemetery over the next 25 years.

Changes will take place gradually and it will be some time before we start to see work beginning. Meanwhile we look forward to seeing developed plans from the finalists and will welcome people sharing their thoughts with us on the Landscape Masterplan concepts when we launch our online exhibition in April

Martin Adeney, Chair, FOHCT

Landscape Competition

The brief was to find 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.

The judging panel has selected the following four teams to go through to the next stage of the competition.

Architectural Projects Competition

The brief was to find an architect-led multidisciplinary team to consider how to conserve historic structures and improve facilities at the Cemetery for visitors and staff. The competition was 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.

The judging panel has selected the following six teams to go through to the next stage of the competition.

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 creatively 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. We believe having two teams working jointly on defining our vision and brief will deliver the best solutions. 

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. We have completed Stage 1 when ten registered landscape architects provided a proposal by 13 January 2021. We have now announced a shortlist of practices to develop their ideas as part of Stage 2 of the process. You will have the opportunity to share your thoughts on their ideas in April 2021. Following that, the judging panel will select a single team that will then be appointed by summer 2021 to develop their proposals further and create a landscape masterplan.

Who was on the judging panel for the Landscape Competition and what criteria did you use to choose the shortlist?

The judging panel consisted of members of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust and experts from the Landscape Institute, the professional body for the profession in the UK. They will be joined by additional external experts for the final judging of shortlisted projects, in May.


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 come first, 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 has now been completed and we have shortlisted six out of 35 architect-led multidisciplinary teams to submit initial proposals as part of stage 2 of the competition. The judging panel will then select a single team that will then be appointed by summer 2021 to develop feasibility studies to help prioritise projects for the future. As the Architectural projects are long term and require detailed feasibility work, public consultation will take place at a later stage, and as part of the Planning process.

Who was on the judging panel for the Architectural Projects Competition and what criteria did you use to choose the shortlist?


The judging panel consisted of members of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust and Artelia, who have been running the competition on FOHCT’s behalf. They will be joined by additional external experts for the final judging of shortlisted projects, in May.


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 biodiversity 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 once design teams are briefed and appointed and design has progressed. 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 April 2021 we will exhibit shortlisted entries in the Landscape Competition. We will be very keen to hear your thoughts 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 and there will be further opportunities to help shape proposals in future.

How much will it cost?

The cost will become clearer once design is underway. A series of defined projects will be accompanied by a detailed programme and cost plans. Our Project Execution Plan will set out the overarching approach to delivering selected projects for the next twenty-five years.

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. Other fundraising initiatives and prudent use of our reserves will secure the Cemetery for the future.