"People always say it's ghoulish," [Michael Howe] says, "but we also design things like lavatories and bathrooms, and that's much more icky. Designing cemeteries is a lot more interesting than designing a middle-class person's kitchen extension."...Indeed.
The decline of cemeteries can partly be explained by the increase in cremation. ... [T]hose in the "industry" were so convinced by cremation that many thought there would be no need for cemeteries at all. But he points out that 30% of people still prefer to be buried - a figure that has been stable for some time....
"One of the issues that has led to the desecration of burial grounds is fear. Socialising these spaces is absolutely essential, so young people see them as part of the cycle of life and death," he says.
He hopes that people will visit the cemetery as a park and even take a picnic there. "If there are green open spaces and woods, why wouldn't people romp around or have a picnic?"
He adds: "It was only in the 20th century that we stopped using cemeteries in this way. The Victorians thought of them as highly cultured places of genteel resort and instruction. A cemetery was considered a neat and proper place to meet and spend time."
He argues that it is not only the Victorians who can find cemeteries uplifting places. "Everyone thinks of the commemoration of deaths as a Victorian thing, which is amazing since we are not going to get out of the habit of dying."
Spread out your morally elevated picnic.
ADDED: Here's a nice photoset that my son John took in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.