London-based practice Haverstock has submitted plans for a ‘sensitive’ and ‘functional’ crematorium in Guildford, Surrey
The £10 million scheme will replace the existing 1960s-built Guildford Crematorium with a single-storey, brick-clad crematorium chapel featuring two double-height spaces and four courtyards.
There will also be a separate pavilion surrounded by memorial gardens and a remembrance court with a reflective pool.
According to the practice, the new crematorium provides a ’sensitive, functional response, which guides mourners through the wider narrative of grief’.
Haverstock partner Claire Barton said: ‘The design not only seeks to offer the utmost privacy and dignity for individual mourners but also recognises the different stages of grief that one experiences through death.
‘Courtyards, protected views and defined routes in the landscape guide users through their journey into the chapel space to celebrate the act of committal, or into the remembrance court and gardens that support longer-term remembrance and memorial.’
If the plans are approved, work is expected to start on site in January 2018, with a completion date scheduled for July 2019.
Set on an established site, this project replaces the existing with a sensitive, functional response, which guides mourners through the wider narrative of grief. Guildford Crematorium is set in a developed landscape on the outskirts of Guildford town. Established in 1965, the existing building is at the end of its natural life, and this project proposes a suitable replacement which responds to modern funeral, memorial and mechanical practices.
The concept for both building and landscape was influenced by the range of visitors to the existing Guildford Crematorium and the stages of grief they experience as they move through and use the site. The flow of mourners, through these stages, was fundamental to the design response. Modern grieving practices incorporate informal and flexible internal arrangements, cater to a large spread of congregation numbers and demand non-denominational spaces in which to both grieve and celebrate life. The project, key to its main concept, also caters to those experiencing other stages of grief, including during the arrangement of a service, the potential to view the committal of the coffin, the collection of ashes following the ceremony and the (often life-long) return to the site to visit memorials.
The building plan employs the device of courtyards to provide spaces for people to both congregate and reflect. Within the chapel, views to two protected, landscaped, courtyards providing visual relief, daylighting (and possible distraction) within a service. An exposed, highly engineered timber structure provides clean, functional decoration within the chapel and above the mourning party. Meanwhile, the catafalque and coffin sit under a lower canopy to provide intimacy.
Both courtyards and internal spaces are wrapped by a brick wall, which sits low and close to the landscape. Using the walled-garden typology, this wall obscures internal and external space to those viewing the building from the memorial gardens. Atop this folding wall, a concrete band sets a solid and continuous datum, from which spring two geometric volumes. The volumes, clad in dark metal, announce the two key uses of the building: chapel and crematory. The geometry is driven by the arrival routes of visitors to the site – by foot and by hearse.
The geometry is driven by the arrival routes of visitors to the site
Common complications of the crematorium brief occur as services begin and end constantly. In order to reduce the risk of crossover – which leads to confusion at best, and distress at worst – elements of the building programme have been separated from the main building to form a remembrance court. It is a special place for reflection, solitude and memory, with a hierarchy of both internal and external spaces. A reflective pool acts as a pin wheel to the space – further separating those arriving, departing and visiting the site.
Type of project New-build crematorium
Client Guildford Borough Council
Landscape architect Plincke
Structural engineer Elliott Wood
M&E consultant RNB Partnership
Quantity surveyor Press & Starkey
Planning supervisor Goddards Consulting
Funding Guildford Borough Council
Start on site date January 2018
Completion date July 2019
Contract duration 24 months
Gross internal floor area 730m²
Form of contract and/or procurement Traditional
Total cost £10 million