The crematorium is an autonomous modern building right next to the older chapel. Surprising to us was the fact that entering the crematorium you are at once in the cremation-room which can also be used for a small ceremony on request. The crematorium and the other facilities on the site like the chapel and morgue are connected on subterranean level.
If you have any last minute suggestions please just drop us an email!
We had a very nice and interesting interview with manager Viv Lackey of the London Cremation Company. Clearly they do not only operate new and monumental crematoria but take great pride in providing personal service to all their clients. Also special thanks to caretaker Erik Willis who has shown me around the buildings and the grounds.
The building on Hooplane was designed in Italian style by sir Ernest George and first opened in 1901. The tower contains the chimney of the crematorium below which has a chapel on each side. To both sides are three columbaria in total whom are partially connected by the cloisters which holds many memorials. The 12 acres of gardens are an enormous oasis in London, it contains several tombs, urn graves and a large scattering lawn.
The crematorium breathes a spiritual and tranquil atmosphere and it was clearly inspired by Louis Kahn’s Kimball Art Museum with its cycloid form concrete roof vaults.
The careful materialisation and attention to detail is very visible and it is carried through in the site. The existing grounds have been developed into a wildlife garden and the building itself was developed with sustainability in mind. Many of the building materials are sustainable and principal spaces are naturally ventilated by means of windcatchers.
The crematorium is a great example of British modernism – stone walls, flat roofs, free “organic” plans following the contours of the site and a distinct Scandinavian accent (this is clearest in the small chapel).
It was the last design of modernist architect Maxwell Fry who worked with Walter Gropius before the war. There is a clear and present manneristic vision at the root of this design, it is like the funeral process translated into architecture. The essence of experiencing a funeral is transposed into mass, space and tactile experience. This remarcable architecture was made complete with stained glass from the famous Swansea School of Art and this tradition is carried on with subtile additions being made in the present.
The crematorium, which is in use since 1959, was designed by Sir Dawber, Fox and Robinson and sits in a circular infrastructure. In 2011 plans were made for to add mercury abatement and extensions to the chapels. The X-plan, the style of the old building and restraints of the site called for an inventive architecture, this was delivered by CLAY architecture.
The new extensions keep the symmetry of the original design. Setting them to the side of the chapels avoided removing trees and cremated remains, also this plan managed to and sightlines within the extension to the apse and pulpit. Choosing to supplement the crematorium with a modern volume seems to have worked quite well since the design has been awarded the regional RIBA award
From the 27 of april until the 8th of may we are travelling to see a selection of crematoria in the UK and we will try to interview some interesting people along the way. We are planning the trip ‘as we speak’ so if you have any last minute tips please let us know.
In the past year we made the first steps in exploring the Architecture of Crematoria in Europe. We had lots of meetings with all kinds of people involved in the business, visiting over 22 crematoria in 7 countries we had started our first analysis and writings. We were happy to find that we were received very enthusiastically by many people and also we are very grateful to those whom are actively supporting our work.
Though we were convinced that this project was filled with potential and very relevant to say the least, we were in need for more financial support to continue the project. So at the end of 2014 we tried to put everything together, our findings and our ideas to go further, and created a report for the creative industries fund NL. The result ..
We are very happy to tell you that the assessment commission of the fund has decided it is a great idea to support us further!