A sensitive sacred place
We worked closely with the United Synagogue on this project to enlarge the UK’s most significant Jewish cemetery, a 16-acre site of outstanding natural beauty in London’s Green Belt, and to create two new prayer halls.
The process of the Jewish funeral defined the design for the extended site; we carefully landscaped each point in the processional ceremony to provide contemplative settings and views, harnessing the site’s established trees as key pivot points.
The prayer halls, discretely embedded into a low corner of the sloping landscape, are constructed from solid rammed earth walls – an ancient building method that is at once natural and sustainable and durable and strong.
Connected by a cloistered timber colonnade, the earthen prayer halls are lined in English Oak, with sections of the rammed earth left exposed in the ceremonial spaces. Corten steel doors complement the natural material palette, and the calm internal environments are accentuated with subtle, low lighting.
A linear reed bed park, including ponds, weirs and swails, facilitates water attenuation and enhances biodiversity, whilst providing the halls with a tranquil waters edge setting.