Alne Wood Green Burial Site

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Warwickshire, UK. 2012

Burial Hill
Bridge and Ditch
Harvested Softwood
Wall of Trees
Site from the lane
Service Yard
Existing Barn
Alne Wood 1880
Kloster Sanct Gallen
Giorgio Morandi
Traditional English Brick Clamp
Parti Sketch
Study Model

The landscape surrounding Alne Wood provides a beautiful, gently rolling tapestry of arable land bound by bands of native broadleafs as a background to the green burial site. Viewed from the lane a timber wall follows the footprint of an existing agricultural shed, the top aligning with the boughs of the mature broadleaf trees. The timber wall will be made of a continuous facade of unseasoned rough sawn, squared, Scots pine logs from the estate, simply stacked to form a solid and protective enclosure to the activities within. As the logs season they will ease and open, creating valuable wildlife habitat that will vary with season and orientation, providing nesting places for house martins and swallows, homes for invertebrates such as burrowing bees and opportunities for the growth of perennial native plants.

Out of the space created by the wall rises a brick volume with high-level openings containing the main reception room. Using the same clay from the nearby landscape that once sustained the now defunct nearby brickworks, the bricks will be fired in a traditional brick clamp, built on site, utilising labour from the estate. The bricks will form both the internal and external faces of the space with a hardwood wainscoting, sourced from trees on the estate, providing a robust and decorous lining. Clerestory windows will provide beautiful, changing lighting and isolated views of the trees against the sky.

Adjoining the reception room, and occupying a small courtyard, will be a smaller, timber-framed room. The timber room will act as an entrance for the main reception space or as a venue for more intimate ceremonies. The gently top lit room will be lined in finely detailed timber panelling, creating a warm, intimate room with a soft acoustic and a shorter reverberation time appropriate to smaller gatherings.

Where the brick volume touches the timber perimeter wall to the east and west it will form two differently sized courtyards. The scale, nature and aspect of these two external spaces will provide different experiences, joined by a common relationship to the boughs of the existing trees that spread their branches over the timber wall. The smaller courtyard will contain a single Davidia Involuncrata. The larger courtyard will be planted as a native woodland, relating to the forest beyond and stocked with pretty, soft small trees for a variety of colours and textures. The complex and changing relationship of interior to exterior will create a series of carefully mediated experiences of the surrounding landscape.

Project status
Long listed competition entry

Competition Date

Felix Dennis & The Heart of England Forest



Michael Lee Architects


Biodiversity by Design

Environmental Engineer

Max Fordham