North Watford Cemetery

John Puttick Associates, Watford, 2020



Photography by Gareth Gardner     Download Original

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Sited at the entrance to the landscaped grounds of North Watford Cemetery is the locally-listed Cemetery Lodge

The brief called for refurbishment of the public-facing office within the 1930s building, increased storage facilities and a shelter for mourners to wait prior to a burial.

The mourner’s shelter is conceived as a place for quiet reflection. We wanted the design to create a sense of calm and warmth, somewhere for families and friends to gather together rather than a mere waiting area. From this came the idea of the gently curving bench which encourages mourners to sit in intimate groups, inviting communality.

The arrangement is further emphasised by the rhythm of timber columns supporting the sheltering canopy and the two circular rooflights which bring pools of natural light to the space below. The choice of natural materials, including cedar shingles, helps the addition sit comfortably in the park-like context. The shingles also provide a textured feel which responds to the grain of the existing brickwork. A new ramp and steps make the building fully-accessible.

Inside the spaces are mostly quite simple. The refurbished reception and office revives the original interior, whilst a small meeting area and supporting facilities in the addition are filled with natural light. A sense of warmth is introduced through details such as plywood joinery and revealing the original brickwork, timber panelling and floor.

The addition creates a small private courtyard to the rear. Throughout we have reduced energy demands through passive means including enhanced insulation and careful positioning/orientation of glazing and the specification of sustainably-sourced materials.

We hope the result is a humane response to the building type and the natural environment of the site. The project was completed in February 2020 and saw almost immediate use in the tragic circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was provided as follows: Heating/electrical/hot water comes from the Lodge so it has not been possible to separate out annual co2 figures for the project


  • Begun: Sep 2019
  • Completed: Feb 2020
  • Floor area: 50m2
  • Sector: Civic
  • Total cost: £200,000
  • Funding: Local Authority
  • Tender date: Mar 2019
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: North Watford Cemetery, Watford, WD25, United Kingdom

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