Wednesday, September 2

mortonhall crematorium -edinburgh

Built in the 1960s, this functional and modernist building in Edinburgh's Braid Hills area was designed by the Scottish architect Sir Basil Spence, (who had also designed a house in the Scottish Borders in which we were lucky to live for over 10 years, Broughton Place). We held the remembrance service for my Scottish grandmother at Mortonhall a few years ago and I loved the simplicity of it (service and building). Mortonhall serves a non-denominational purpose but the modern style is frankly in keeping with the older Church of Scotland ethos of less, less, less, then simplify.

Elaboration by Mark Chalmers describes Mortonhall thus; "The calm Modernism is a fitting backdrop for loss and grief in our Age – compared to say the High Gothic which was the Victorians’ funerary style. One is the product of a rational humanism, or a gentle pantheism; the other reflects the psychopomp of the later 19th century, with its elaborate ceremony and ritual."

I would agree with this decription; "...white Corbusian buildings in rolling parkland setting: the crystalline chapel's interior feels Scandinavian." -via e-architect

Photo via National Gallery Scotland
"Mortonhall Crematorium was one of the many commissions which Spence [Sir Basil Spence] received following the success of Coventry Cathedral. The building comprises a main structure with two large chapels, the crematorium and services block, a separate private chapel, a garden of remembrance and staff residencies.

All interior fixtures and fittings were kept simple to allow for quiet reflection. The interior of the chapel is lit naturally with the only colour coming from stained glass windows, which project coloured patterns onto the white interior." -via National Gallery Scotland.

"Spence insisted that all the interior fixtures and fittings were kept simple. Pine pews set into concrete blocks allow for quiet reflection; a white concrete and bronze platform supports the coffin; and dark grey concrete slabs comprise the flooring. The only colour within the chapels comes from the stained glass windows..." via the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project.

Photo courtesy of Richard Cross

More at Edinburgh Architecture.