Best talents in landscape design and architecture sought to conserve and enhance world-famous Highgate Cemetery

World-famous Highgate Cemetery, resting place of many well-known people from Karl Marx to Lucian Freud, is launching two open competitions to ensure the captivating site is conserved and enhanced for future generations.

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. Added to concerns related to sustainability and the climate emergency, it is clear that the Cemetery needs to find a way to adapt to the new demands of the twenty-first century.

That is why the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust is launching two open competitions. The first is to find the best practitioners in landscape design to develop a landscape masterplan. The second is to find an architect-led multidisciplinary design team to investigate projects to preserve and enhance the historic structures and improve facilities for staff and visitors. A comprehensive Conservation Plan completed in 2019 forms the bedrock of these competitions.

Martin Adeney, Chair of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, said: "We will be working with the local community, cemetery volunteers and experts so 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.

"This is important because Highgate is still a working cemetery with over 170,000 people buried here and in more usual times welcomes over 100,000 visitors a year from all over the world. 

"Having saved the Cemetery from dereliction in the 1970s, and secured the major monuments, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust is now looking at how this world-famous resting place of so many distinguished people can be conserved and enhanced for future generations. 

"We are seeking the most imaginative practitioners to work with us in developing a new landscape vision that can sensitively respond to the history and character of Highgate Cemetery. We will ensure that the Cemetery remains the place of enchantment which so many people value, whose carefully-tended natural environment provides sanctuary for those buried here and their loved ones, as well as the thousands who visit."

Jane Findlay, President of the Landscape Institute, said: "As custodians of such a significant landscape site, by launching these competitions, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust has taken the important step in ensuring it will be fit for the twenty-first century.

"This is not a short-term undertaking, but it's an important one. The landscape masterplan will guide the development of the Cemetery for the next twenty-five years, so it's important that we attract the best talents in landscape design and architecture for this world-renowned cemetery. As the chartered body for the landscape profession, we are delighted to have been able to use our expertise in the sector to create this landscape competition."

How the competitions will work
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 will run simultaneously as the landscape, buildings and facilities need to be considered holistically. 

Highgate Cemetery 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.

  • In Stage 1 entrants will complete a four-part Standard Selection Questionnaire, including explanations of how they will approach the project, similar projects they have successfully delivered in the past, and details of their team.
  • In Stage 2 six teams will be selected and asked to submit initial ideas on the projects that we envisage. Their submissions will include fee proposals and responses on a number of issues that will form our contract with them.

Timings: Stage 1 entries by 20 January 2021. Stage 2 will run from 1 February to 24 March 2021. Site visits will be offered in week commencing 7 December 2020.

Please visit for more information.

Winners of both competitions will be announced in May 2021.

A short film about Highgate Cemetery and the people that make it what it is can be found at