Bushey Cemetery in Hertfordshire is in the running for the Riba Stirling Prize, with the winner to be announced in October.
Student housing, an office building, a nursery school, lecture theatre and art gallery Tate St Ives are also up for the award.
Judges described Bushey Cemetery, by Waugh Thistleton Architects, as “an extraordinary spiritual building formed of natural rammed earth walls, oak and rusted steel, with the beliefs and customs of the Jewish faith at its heart”.
They said: “In keeping with the Jewish idea of being buried very simply, in a cardboard coffin and simple clothes, the buildings carry through the idea of returning the body to the ground, ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes’.
“In contrast with the plainness of the buildings, the landscape is almost lush.
“The limited number of buildings, the simplicity of the forms and expressionist choice of materials all reflect the symbolism of burial to the Jewish community.”
Tate St Ives is the most well-known new building on the list. It recently won Art Fund Museum Of The Year, winning a £100,000 prize after opening a new £20 million gallery “sunk into the cliff”.
The four-year building project doubled the space for art at the venue, adding almost 600 square metres of galleries.
Riba president Ben Derbyshire said that half of the six buildings on the shortlist were commissioned by UK universities. He said: “Each of the projects on this year’s shortlist shows the power and payback of investing in quality architecture.
“This shortlist illustrates why UK architects and architecture are held in such high regard around the world.
“In these challenging and turbulent political times, we must celebrate how the UK’s architectural talent can help to improve local communities and their quality of life.”
The Riba Stirling Prize shortlist – which features no Scottish nominations – which featuresalso includes Bloomberg in London, Chadwick Hall at the University of Roehampton, London, Storey’s Field Community Centre and Nursery in Cambridg eand the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre in Oxford, described as: “A floating auditorium crafted from classic Oxford stone and natural oak to blend exquisitely into the established landscape of Worcester College.”