Plymouth Bereavement Centre

A modern crematorium set in a sensitive and peaceful landscape.

  • Location

    Plymouth

  • Client

    Plymouth City Council

  • Value

    £9m

  • Completion

    2021

The scheme

Plymouth Bereavement Centre is a state-of-the-art crematorium facility proposed for construction in the Saltram area of Plymouth. Estimated for completion in 2021, the scheme also includes an on-site cafe and offices for the Drake Memorial Park.

The location of the new building has prompted a landscape inspired design response. The scheme roots itself in the calmness of the surrounding landscape to provide the best possible experience for mourners.

The new facility includes two non-denomination ceremony spaces with flexible seating, waiting areas, offices, a new crematory and three new cremators with the latest environmental protection equipment.

A naturalistic approach.

A strong processional route is created on entering the site. Hedge-banks form a continuous containment to the northern boundary of the access road. To the south, a series of ephemeral water bodies lie adjacent to the road creating a more open feel. A mixture of native and non-native tree planting provides seasonal interest and a verdant, naturalistic approach.

A large pond with natural and organic planting sits next to the main ceremony space. The water reflects the building and resonates the calm and muted use of materiality throughout. At dusk, light spills out of the building onto the water.

Modern, soft and understated.

The ceremony spaces draw heavily from Scandinavian crematoria, providing a minimal aesthetic that does not distract from the occasion. This space reflects the calmness of the surrounding landscape and provides an outward looking experience.

Both ceremony spaces reveal the undulating form of the roof. Glulam timber is used in the structure to add warmth and assist in drawing the eye outward. The south-facing wall, made of Plymouth Limestone, deliberately mirrors the exterior of the building and pays tribute to the geography of this place.

The materiality is deliberately soft in this sensitive place, maximising the use of light from both the windows and roof light above the catafalque.

A landscape inspired design.

Due to the topography of the land and the requirement for separate spaces, the proposed building has been split into three main elements; the two ceremony spaces with their ancillary rooms, and the main private ‘back of house’ building which houses most of the technical, support and welfare facilities.

A palette of Plymouth Limestone and concrete, both textured and polished, stamps this building into the landscape. Whilst pre-oxidised copper envisaged for the roof will mirror the landscape. This undulating and dynamic roofscape will alter the appearance of the building as you move around it.

In the courtyard a hint of feature green walling and additional falling water features will provide visual and aural interest.

Remembrance, reflection, celebration.

The landscape design reflects the intrinsic beauty and tranquility found within the surrounding Plymouth countryside. The design moves away from the rigid formality of traditional cemeteries to a more relaxed, naturalistic environment.

Woodland edge belts will transition into a memorial arboretum with more widely spaced tree planting. The arboretum melts into a species-rich wildflower meadow to the south of the site. A series of surfaced paths provide safe access for all throughout the site.

Green burials may be available within the arboretum and scattering areas within the wildflower meadows and woodland glades. Sculpture within key locations throughout the park will be a focus for memorialisation.