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​Bushey Cemetery

by Waugh Thistleton Architects

Client The United Synagogue
Awards RIBA East Award 2018 and RIBA National Award 2018

© Lewis Khan

The architects, Waugh Thistleton, have a very strong, long term relationship with the Jewish community. They have completed a number of synagogues prior to this project and the simplicity, austerity even, of the means and materials used in this project are a reflection of this mutual respect, trust and empathy. Every aspect of the building layout and progress through the landscape are in keeping with the spirit of the event.

In keeping with the Jewish idea of being buried very simply, in a cardboard coffin, simple clothes, the buildings carry through the idea of returning the body to the ground, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes”. In contrast with the plainness of the buildings, the landscape is almost lush. The cemetery is surrounded by a tree belt and a series of balancing ponds to capture the increased rain water runoff fed by a clever drainage system.

The limited number of buildings, the simplicity of the forms and expressionist choice of materials all reflect the symbolism of burial to the Jewish community. An example of the care with which each element has been considered, is the gentle slope of the floor in the Prayer Halls that tips the visitors forward along the route to the graves. This project will be just a stage in the ongoing process of enlarging the cemetery so that the community can continue to honour and protect their dead. The fact that the rammed earth walls of the prayer hall will return to the earth once the cemetery is full and has to be extended again, is a poetic response to the programme for the cemetery and the traditions of the Jewish faith.

Contractor Buxton Building Contractors Limited
Structural Engineer Elliott Wood Partnership Ltd
Environmental / M&E Engineer P3r Engineers Ltd
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Deacon and Jones LLP
Project Management Deacon and Jones LLP
Landscape Architects J & L Gibbons
Internal Area 644 m²

© Lewis Khan
© Lewis Khan
© Lewis Khan
© Blake Ezra
© Waugh Thistleton
© Waugh Thistleton
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