A proud, and perhaps appropriate conclusion to the tradition of local governmental patronage
Milton Keynes was one of the last new towns and one of the project’s final municipal buildings was – fittingly – a crematorium. This was commissioned from one of the town architects shortly before the closure of the architecture department. As such it is one of the final municipal crematoria in the country, as the building of such facilities was largely privatised under Thatcher. It is a proud conclusion to the tradition of local governmental patronage, taking inspiration from no less a monument than Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum. The structure is covered by several in-situ concrete cycloids, the largest of which vaults the chapel.
This space terminates in a small circular chamber at the centre of which stands the catafalque. A curtain may be drawn across this at the conclusion of the ceremony. Behind this is the committal room, to which the coffin is transferred before being moved into the cremation room at the rear of the building. This is a continuation of the standard arrangement of British crematoria. More originally, another small circular chamber opens to the chapel’s west, offering a sanctuary for private mourning, while to the east is a space for musicians. After the service, mourners withdraw to a secluded garden at the building’s rear. The building is completed to a high standard of energy conservation, being naturally ventilated by wind towers mounted on the roof and heated by the crematory furnace.