Hemel Hempstead Crematorium

Tags: community, masonry, timber, new build

  • Client: West Herts Crematorium Joint Committee
  • Architect: Haverstock
  • Photography: Simon Kennedy
  • Completion: 2023
  • Value: £5m
  • Expertise: Structures, Civils
Hemel Hempstead Crematorium - Webb Yates Engineers
Hemel Hempstead Crematorium - Webb Yates Engineers
Hemel Hempstead Crematorium - Webb Yates Engineers

West Herts Crematorium Joint Committee was established in 1953 to serve the residents of its five constituent councils by providing cremation services for the local community at West Herts Crematorium. In 2018, it was decided that the rising demand for cremations at the facility necessitated a sister crematorium.

Situated south east of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, Haverstock's design for the new crematorium provides a 136-seat chapel, with additional standing room for 115 people, as well as congregation, crematory, administration and staff spaces. The design also creates a separate remembrance chapel with memorial gardens.

Webb Yates Engineers are the delivering the structural and civil aspects of the project, which aims to respect the landscape and reduce the visual impact of the building by shielding the site with turfed and planted rolling landscaping.

The structure comprises a single-storey sustainable timber frame, atop reinforced concrete foundations, to form a unique plan with various wings and rooms off of the main chapel and crematory room. A pitched roof, formed from glulam beams, spans from the main building to an adjacent detached building to create a porte-cochère, and cantilevers out along one side of the building. Large windows and rooflights are incorporated to optimise the use of natural light. Timber cladding and light brickwork is utilised throughout to create muted and coherent aesthetic that allows the building to sit within the surrounding landscape with minimal visual impact.

A new road is created, forming the route from the new cemetery to the crematorium, passing under the porte-cochère to allow for the drop-off of mourners, before circling the crematorium and back to the cemetery. An adjacent 140-space car park is screened from the main building by landscaping and an additional small accessible car park is located next to the remembrance pavilion and gardens.

The development is designed to be self-draining and independent of any public sewer systems, with waste water draining to a dedicated package treatment plant. This treated water then flows, along with surface water, into a 1,100m³ detention basin at the southern end of the site.

The resulting design is an inconspicuous, peaceful and elegant building and landscape, with clear consideration for mourners and visitors.

Awards

  1. Civic Trust Awards 2024, shortlisted, 1 2024
  2. Structural Timber Awards 2023, Commercial Project of the Year, shortlisted, 8 2023