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Llwydcoed Crematorium

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llwydcoed, Rhondda Cynon Taff

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7485 / 51°44'54"N

Longitude: -3.458 / 3°27'28"W

OS Eastings: 299443

OS Northings: 206539

OS Grid: SN994065

Mapcode National: GBR HK.12WN

Mapcode Global: VH6CX.09RY

Entry Name: Llwydcoed Crematorium

Listing Date: 16 March 2007

Last Amended: 16 March 2007

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 87523

Location: Between Merthyr and Hirwaun, on minor road off A465, on S slope of hillside, set in extensive landscaped grounds.

County: Rhondda Cynon Taff

Community: Llwydcoed

Traditional County: Glamorgan

History

Work began in June 1969, and the building was completed in December 1970. Architects H M R Burgess & Partners. Llwydcoed Crematorium was the Wales winner of the RIBA Architecture Awards in 1971. The builders were Knox & Wells Ltd. The main building cost £102,503, with a further £88,859 for roads, landscaping, and auxiliary buildings. The roof is covered with Ffestiniog slates, and the type design of the inscriptions is based upon that designed for the 1969 Investiture of the Prince of Wales by Professor Dewi Prys-Thomas. In "Architects'' Journal", the architects described how the inward facing blocks reflected "the essentially introverted character of a crematorium". The RIBA Awards praised the building''s use of "indigenous materials", and its "appropriate and sensitive choice of finishes", as well as the "steep roof pitches which echo the shape of the local landscape"; also the way the building is "fully conceived in three dimensions: plan and section lock it to the ground and the sky".

As cremation became increasingly acceptable during the C20, architects rose to the challenge of this new C20 building type. In Europe, the Woodland Crematorium of Erik Gunnar Asplund, at Stockholm was influential: it used the clean forms of modernism to create a sense of spirituality in a building whilst also fulfilling demanding functional requirements. In 1968, Maxwell Fry (who designed the crematorium at Coychurch near Bridgend) lectured on the design of crematoria and the need "to make people participate more closely in the cremation service through the design of the building and its approaches". Meanwhile, church architecture was demonstrating the ability of modernism to express ritual purpose, acknowledging not only the intelligent disposition of plan, but also the ordering of light and the modelling of space. The Llwydcoed building takes up this expressionist theme, with fine handling of a complex asymmetrical plan with a subtle relationship between the interior spaces and the semi-open spaces of the courtyards, its dynamic, vertical emphasis, and skilful use of light. Great thought has been given to circulation of the users within the building. The building is very little altered since construction, although the chimney top has been modified.

Exterior

The building is formed of four asymmetrical main blocks with steep slate roofs "set back-to back, their steep
roofs forming a fractured pyramid" (Newman). The large Capel Mair seats 120, and the smaller Capel Tydfil 50 people. The third block is the Chapel of Remembrance. The Crematory block has a large chimney. There is a lower block with waiting room and vestry, and former offices. These blocks are linked to one another by covered courtyards whose flat roofs extend to become portes-cocheres with outer ends supported on roughcast screen walls. The roofs of the courtyards have openings to light the planted areas below. Materials are predominantly white roughcast walls on natural stone plinths, and Ffestiniog slates to extensive roofs; pine boarding to ceilings of exterior canopies; chiefly natural paving also to courtyards.
Former Office and Waiting Room block with flat roof and mono-pitch roof to windows lighting waiting room.

Interior

Materials predominantly roughcast walls with natural stone plinths and flooring, pine boarded ceilings. Capel Mair: Glass curtain wall with door to each end gives entry to lateral corridor with waiting room block to L. Ahead, chapel has high quarter-pyramidal roof with pine boarding, lit by window high in inner corner of quarter pyramid, and by windows at eaves. A wall with relief decoration screens organ. Altar with black marble top and white marble plinth; recess with painted sandstone catafalque to R, exit doorway to L. Original seating. Capel Tydfil: Lit by window high in inner corner of quarter pyramid. A wall with geometrical reliefs screens organ; to L, altar with white marble top, and black marble plinth, and recess for painted sandstone catafalque. Exit doorway to R. Original seating. Small waiting room and vestry near entrance. Chapel of Remembrance: Lit by window high in inner corner of quarter pyramid has stone benches (painted sandstone) to contain floral tributes, and central octagonal plinth (painted sandstone) for Book of Remembrance case. Crematory with operational parts of building.

Reasons for Listing

Graded II* as an arresting complex of chapels and crematory, with refined use of simple materials, and fine
handling of a complex asymmetrical plan with a subtle relationship between the interior spaces and the semi-open spaces of the courtyards. An excellent example of expressionist modernism.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II War Memorial
    At the top of Llwydcoed Park immediately to S of the area of Tre-Gibbon.
  • II Merthyr Road Railway Bridge
    Towards the N end of Llwydcoed where the Merthyr Road rises over the disused railway cutting.

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