‘Semi-public’ and ‘semi-private’ environment
Although it is a resting place for those who have left us, the focus for cemeteries is still the people who visit them. One of the people who has worked on lighting for Swedish cemeteries is Florence Hermansson, a light artist and light designer/light planner, who is based in Uppsala, Sweden.
“Cemeteries are primarily a resting place for the deceased. We always need to remember that is the main purpose of the place,” she explains. “After that, it is a space that belongs to the relatives, and those who manage the cemetery. After that, it is a place for the public. That hierarchy is something that cemetery visitors need to accept and respect.”
Florence emphasises that there is a valuable focus and purpose to the whole cemetery environment.
“These places are truly unique. They must not and cannot be compared with other public spaces in the municipal environment, such as public parks. I want people to respect the importance these spaces have to others, and to society as a whole. In cemeteries, there is a very thin line between the private burial plots and the ‘public’ paths. It’s important to create a ‘semi-public’ space that is also ‘semi-private’, which is what a cemetery is an example of. We need to take this complexity into account when planning the lighting.”
Jaana Rintala Berndtsson, a planner at the Swedish Church’s cemetery administration in Gothenburg, also encounters challenges in her work in managing the unique type of environment that cemeteries represent.
“We have many different types of areas to illuminate in a cemetery,” she explains. “You have to consider why you are illuminating an area, and who will be visiting it. In environmental terms, you need to avoid having too much lighting, and from a safety aspect, you need enough lighting for visitors to feel safe. On the one hand, we have equipment depots that need to be illuminated in an efficient way – so that visitors and our employees can see and work. On the other hand, we shouldn’t illuminate all parts of the site so as to avoid upsetting the biological circadian rhythm of the wildlife in and around the cemetery.”