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First look

Evans Vettori complete funeral home in Buxton

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The two-storey pitched-roof building, incorporating a garage, is designed to sit sensitively with the scale of surrounding terraces 

This project for an expanding funeral directors business sits in an area of Victorian terraced housing and in close proximity to a number of churches.

The brief was to provide a building which allows the business to cater sensitively for bereaved families and to provide an efficient and functional plan for the staff to perform all aspects of funeral organisation, administration and preparation. 

Aj belfield house ev 06

Aj belfield house ev 06

Source: Tristan Poyser

The primary spaces include a reception, office, chapel of rest and a preparation and cold room at ground floor level, while ancillary offices are located at first floor. The element of the building that contains the garage – which stores part of the vehicle fleet – is set back from the road edge and aligned with an adjacent residential terrace. The main pedestrian entrance and reception part of the building sits closer to the boundary with a small projecting canopy providing a covered external area for visitors.  

Pedestrians are provided with level access into the reception space and all publicly accessible spaces are located on the ground floor, with an accessible WC provided immediately off the main reception.  To the rear of the site, away from the road, is clear space for the funeral vehicles to manoeuvre and a small amount of parking for staff or visitors, including doctors or members of the clergy.

Aj belfield house ev 08

Aj belfield house ev 08

Source: Tristan Poyser

Architects view 

A key feature of the design for this project was not a detail or a product but was in fact the need for a compelling case for a contemporary intervention within the parameters of massing, materiality and character of the site. This was particularly significant due to the heritage asset affected by the proposal; the building and grounds of the Grade II listed Church of Saint Mary the Virgin (an arts and crafts example built in 1914 by P Currey and CC Thompson) and it’s associated Grade II listed War Memorial.

High Peak Borough Council raised valid concerns in the initial response regarding siting, scale and detailed design. The design developed significantly in accordance with some key points raised to improve the overall appearance of the building, while also contributing positively to the setting.

A key point to be addressed was the building height and it’s relationship with neighbouring developments. As a consequence of this, the roof design (initially proposed as a single-storey pavilion roof) developed to accommodate two-storeys to better reflect the predominant pitched roof forms found within the setting. The form and appearance were intended to be in keeping with the existing context – taking visual cues from the domestic features of the nearby terraced buildings and the churches expansive and steeply sloped slate roof, to reduce its overall impact.

Aj belfield house ev isometric

Aj belfield house ev isometric

Source: Evans Vettori

Aerial site isometric

The general form and massing developed to serve as a continuation of the existing terraced perimeter – helping to frame the heritage asset within the setting. Of note is the single storey property which adjoins the Westernmost edge which has remained intact since the early 1900s – and provided an implied visual plane to align the front entrance canopy with. At the other end of the front elevation we also took visual cue from the neighbouring residential terraces in an effort to better navigate the roofscape – helping to complete the visual rhythm of terraces and enclosing the site.

In terms of material cues, consideration was given to the materials of the focal points of the context. On the roads which lie between the proposal’s site and the heritage asset the architecture consists of terraced housing with pitched slate roofs and modest stone and brick detailing. These design aspects were noted and reinterpreted in a contemporary manner through the choice of quartz coloured zinc roofing and locally sourced ashlar stone, both of which featured simple detail and we felt sat comfortably in the context.

Following research of the site’s history, we had also uncovered that it was originally occupied by a G&J Bagshaw & Sons Builders merchants and served as the location for their light industrial/commercial development in the early 1900s. Their building looked to have occupied the front edge of the site with a prominent steeper-than-average pitched roof.

Belfield house makes a strong reference to the design and form of the original builders’ merchants and went on in some way to inform the colour and specification of what was to be standing-seam zinc cladding.

John Evans, architectural assistant, Evans Vettori

Aj belfield house ev detailsection

Aj belfield house ev detailsection

Source: Evans Vettori

Detail section

Project Data 

Start on site June 2018
Completion date October 2019
Gross internal floor area 217m2
Gross (internal + external) floor area 552m2
Form of contract Traditional contract
Construction cost £520,000
Construction cost per m2 £2396
Architect Evans Vettori
Client R. W. Percival Funeral Directors, Buxton
Structural engineer Erskine Hurt Consultants
QS Andrew Hopkin QS Services
Main contractor NSJ Contractors
CAD software used Revit, SketchUp, MicroStation
Primary annual energy use 81 kwh/m2
Annual CO2 emissions 13.94 KgCO2eq/m

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