The Classical Cemetery

With the rise of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the late nineteenth century, both a formal method of planning and a preference for classicism came to the design of cemeteries. The Beaux-Arts emphasized a flexible system of planning that could express, usually through the ordered, axial hierarchies of classicism, a great range of landscapes.

In her design for the WWI British Cemetery in Daours, France, Gertrude Jekyll turned to the formal vocabulary of classicism to express military order and hierarchy; note that the Indian soldiers were buried apart from the British soldiers. By contrast, a warmer, more Mediterranean classicism suffuses Bernard Cahill’s design for a cemetery, which unfolds up the hill like a strange hybrid between an Italian hilltop town and a university. Cahill, a Bay Area architect, would have been familiar with John Galen Howard's Beaux-Arts designs for the University of California.