Guildford Crematorium

Education & Public Sector

Location: Guildford, Surrey

Architect: Haverstock

Client: Guildford Borough Council

Structural engineer: Elliott Wood Partnership

Main contractor: Buxton Building Contractors

Building superstructure: Constructional Timber

Cladding: TJ Lowery

Furniture: Treske

Wood supplier: Constructional Timber (glulam), Howard Joinery (oak cladding)

Services engineer: RHB Partnership

Landscape architect: Plincke

Species: European oak, European spruce

A suitable replacement building was needed for the existing Guildford Crematorium which had come to the end of its life. The new building and landscape were influenced by its range of visitors and the stages of grief they experience as they move through and use the site. The flow through these stages was fundamental to the design response. Modern grieving practices incorporate informal and flexible internal arrangements, cater to a variety of congregation numbers, and demand non-denominational spaces in which to both grieve and celebrate life. The scheme also caters to those experiencing other stages of grief, from the arrangement of a service to the return to site to visit memorials. The building endeavors to soothe a mourner’s grief with views onto an uplifting landscape, with pockets of character spaces along their journey through the site. Using walled garden typology, masonry walls obscure internal and external spaces to those viewing the building from the gardens. A concrete band sets a solid and continuous datum above the folding wall. From this, spring two geometric timber volumes clad in zinc, which act as waymarks for visitors and announce the two key uses of the building – chapel and crematory. The chapel looks out onto a protected courtyard landscape. An exposed, highly engineered glulam timber roof structure offers clean, functional decoration within the chapel with additional natural light provided by high level clerestory window. To provide intimacy, the catafalque and coffin sit under a lower canopy within the chapel, wrapped in warm vertical oak board cladding. This feature is extended into the chapel lobby, office reception area and external canopies.