Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Haverstock submits plans for £10m Guildford Crematorium

  • 1 Comment

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. 

Site plan

Site plan

Source: Haverstock

Site plan

Architect’s view

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.

Project data 

Location Godalming
Type of project New-build crematorium
Client Guildford Borough Council
Architect Haverstock
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

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • MacKenzie Architects

    No judgement on this design -

    There is a huge shortage of crematoriums in England -and this one is merely a replacement, not an addition.

    I happened to do 5 minutes research a couple of weeks ago when I learned my too-young cousin couldn't have his cremation for 3 weeks after his sad demise.
    Three weeks is disgraceful -but I am sure becoming the norm.
    The increased population, death figures for recent years, and current no. of crematoriums, shows a shortfall of many hundreds -and getting worse.

    But since no-one is allowed to do strategic planning any more in this country, this will not improve.

    Needless the say, the crematorium service we went to, sat 80, and 50 of us remained outside on a lovely sunny day. Good that they had speakers out into the car port.
    Perhaps if you live to be 100, there won't be many people left who knew you well enough to come to your funeral, but I suspect the average lifespan in this country is dropping. I think of the last dozen or funerals I or my immediate have been to, 50% were aged under 50. In almost all of them, the attendance was well over 80 mourners.

    I note that this design appears to offer less seating than 80, perhaps the cheap seats can be moved to the side.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more