Haverstock completes Hemel Hempstead crematorium featuring engineered timber catafalque

External works include extensive landscaping, including car-parking provision, memorial gardens, woodland areas, long grass meadows with mown grass paths, and a hard landscaped entrance forecourt. Priority was placed on a clear circulation route for visitors to avoid mourners from consecutive services overlapping and to assist efficient staff management for the day-to-day running and operations.


Client’s view

The hardscape and planting has been designed to integrate with the architecture and timber engineering, with distinctive pockets of space created between the building, wildflower mounds and limestone gabion walls.

Exceeding all expectations, the completed building and beautifully landscaped grounds stand as a testament to the team’s unwavering dedication to this challenging project. Not only did they have to tackle the intricacies of constructing within the green belt, but also the challenges of sharing the site with another facility, which affected the circulation routes of both people and vehicles. The thoughtful design has been so sympathetic to the needs of the bereaved, resulting in the creation of an atmosphere of tranquillity and calmness. The building design, carefully crafted to be unobtrusive, seamlessly fits with the natural setting and is gracefully complemented by the soft landscaping scheme. The incorporation of a stunning timber structure, along with the protected view from the chapel, a serene reflection pond and a peaceful floral tribute area, has garnered overwhelming praise from the funeral industry. Their keenness to bring bereaved families to this facility amid the vast choice available speaks volumes about the high praise we’ve received. We are looking forward to opening this very special facility to the community it was designed to serve.
Joyce Pollaya, senior project manager, Watford Borough Council

The structure provides a chapel for 140 people alongside spaces for congregation, crematory, administration, staff and memorial, with memorial facilities housed in a separate pavilion.

On-site energy generation 27.73%
Annual mains water consumption 0.094 m³/occupant
Airtightness at 50Pa 3.8 m³/h.m²
Heating and hot water load 44.51 kWh/m²/yr
Overall area-weighted U-value 0.246 W/m²K
Design life 25 years
Annual CO2 emissions 5 kgCO2eq/m²


Start on site November 2020
Completion date June 2023
Gross internal floor area 770m² (including mezzanine and machinery garage)
Gross (internal + external) floor area 5.8ha
Form of contract Traditional
Construction cost £7 million
Construction cost per m2 £9,000
Architect Haverstock
Client Watford Borough Council on behalf of the West Herts Crematorium Joint Committee (Dacorum Borough Council, Hertsmere Borough Council, St Albans City & District Council, Three Rivers District Council)
Landscape architect Plincke
Structural engineer Webb Yates Engineers
M&E consultant RHB Partnership
Quantity surveyor MacConvilles Surveying
BIM consultant Deploi BIM Strategies
Planning consultant We Are Define
Transport planning consultant Mode Transport Planning
Needs assessment Peter Michell Associates
Approved building inspector Sweco
Acoustic consultant RSK Acoustics
Project manager MacConvilles Surveying
Principal designer Haverstock
CDM co-ordinator Goddard Consulting
Approved building inspector Sweco
Main contractor Buxton Building Contractors
CAD software used Revit

Environmental performance data

It has a protected view, giving the chapel light and visual amenity, using the surrounding landscape as a backdrop.

We are really pleased to have mitigated the challenging planning restrictions on this beautiful site to the south of Hamel Hempstead and the adjoining Bunkers Park Open Space. The hardscape and planting have really integrated with the architecture and timber engineering, with pockets of space between building and bunds. The vistas and visitor flow through the building feel just right and ready for the first ceremony. We are looking forward to seeing the specimen trees, shrubs, woodland and meadow planting establishing and forming an integral part of the memorial experience across the site.
Tom, Gibb, partner, Haverstock


Project data

The building was developed with Watford Borough Council on behalf of the West Herts Crematorium Joint Committee.

Architect’s view

The £7 million crematorium within a green belt south of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, has an asymmetric layout and catafalque (a decorated wooden framework on which the coffin is placed) to provide intimacy regardless of the size of the congregation at any given service. The catafalque is represented through an engineered timber structure, exposed within the building.