Guildford Crematorium Wood Awards shortlisting

We are delighted as Guildford Crematorium has been shortlisted for a Wood Award. The new build provides a chapel for 135 people seated and 50 standing space with floral tribute to replace the existing building which was at the end of its natural life.

The concept for both building and landscape was influenced by the range of visitors to the existing Guildford Crematorium and the stages of grief which 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, 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 return to site to visit memorials.

Using the walled garden typology, masonry walls obscure internal and external spaces 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, constructed of timber and clad in zinc, announce the two key uses of the building – chapel and crematory. The forms acts as waymarks for visitors as they approach the building.

Within the chapel, there are views to a protected courtyards landscape. An exposed, highly engineered glulam timber roof structure provides clean, functional decoration within the chapel with additional natural light provided by high level clerestory window.

The catafalque and coffin sit within the chapel, under a lower canopy to provide intimacy, wrapped in the warmth of vertical oak board cladding. This feature is extended into the chapel lobby, office reception area and external canopies.