Wednesday30 July 2014


First look: River Styx inspires Western Design’s Dorset burial chapel

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Western Design Architects has won planning approval for a woodland burial chapel in the heart of the green belt of Lytchett Minster, near Poole in Dorset

Conceived as a floating island, the non-denomin-ational chapel is surrounded by a moat – in reference to the River Styx – which widens to become a reflecting pool at the southern end of the site. Inspired by the form of ancient burial mounds common to the area, the complex nestles within a curving landscaped berm, giving the impression that the sunken spaces have been carved from the landscape.

A narrow antechamber leads through to a function room which opens out on to a terrace with views to the Purbeck Hills across the water. “We wanted the chapel to be a very inward-looking space in contrast to the function room, which will be bright and airy with open views out into the landscape,” explains project designer Sean Daly.

Lighting is carefully choreographed throughout, with the chapel top lit by a band of clear storey glazing and a focal rooflight, giving the impression that the sedum-covered roof is floating weightlessly above.

Harbour View Animation

The £1.1 million project employs a restrained pallet of raw, natural materials, with rugged internal walls of local Purbeck stone and solid timber benches. Accessed down parallel, tree-lined avenues, the low-lying building will be barely visible from the surrounding landscape.

“We have tried to be very sympathetic to the context by carrying out extensive biodiversity surveys and incorporating nesting areas within the berm,” says Daly.

The project is scheduled to start on site in May 2011, with completion within a year.


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