Architecture students have been challenged to redesign Croydon Crematorium to make it more welcoming and inclusive for visitors of all backgrounds and faiths.
Croydon Council challenged Ravensbourne University London’s Department of Architecture to research and submit designs on the theme of ‘celebrating life’.
The crematorium, which is part of the Croydon Cemetery on Mitcham Road, hosts on average 1800 cremations a year. It is planned to be refurbished to create a new space suitable for multi-faith commemorations.
The pupils were asked to create spaces for remembrance and celebration, a place for flexible use and a place to provide a peaceful, comfortable experience during ceremonies.
Each pupil was asked to design for three different budgets, the highest being up to £900,000. Two design concepts were put forward to a Croydon Council panel, who chose a winning design by Sarah Agill and Shpend Pashtriku.
Their entry focused on tackling specific challenges – creating two new buildings dedicated to commemoration – as well as a landscaped rooftop to allow the community to gather, bond and celebrate their passed loved ones.
The pupils won a £2,000 prize and will see their design developed to the next phase of the project, where it will be used as part of a redesign tender for the site at the end of the year.
Commenting, Sarah said: “It is an honour to be awarded first place. The opportunity proved to be a valuable learning experience — dealing with clients and understanding their requirements, then progressing the collaboration with them to create something that parallels or even surpasses their hopes for the scheme.”
Shpend added: “Creating something that values the diversity of religions and cultures, inclusivity and community interaction — to us — serves as even more of an accomplishment.”
Mini Coker and Priscilla Mensah were awarded second place and a £1,000 prize for their concept. Their design included a forest of beams featuring different ways each religion says farewell to loved ones.
“The students’ designs are innovative and could create flexible new spaces to support our residents in the bereavement process, both during the funeral and afterwards when remembering their departed friends and family.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
Idrees Rasouli, course leader for BA (Hons) IDEA/Interior Design Environment Architectures course at Ravensbourne, said: “With the increasing popularity of cremation over burial, the traditions and activities related to death are being explored. Many have adopted an attitude of ‘celebrating life’ rather than mourning death during these ceremonies, and Croydon Council are leading the way in meeting the needs of the future, with respect to this cultural change.”