In 1960, the City of Edinburgh commissioned Basil Spence & Partners to build a new multi-denominational crematorium. Situated on the south of the city, the resulting complex comprises a main structure with two large chapels and the cremation and services block, a separate private chapel, a garden of remembrance and staff residences.
Drawing from his experiments at Coventry Cathedral, Spence designed the windows as tall, glazed slits to provide natural illumination and dramatic lighting effects. The buildings are all finished externally with white concrete blocks.
“I realised... that architecture could have a deep spiritual significance”
- Sir Basil Spence in his book Phoenix at Coventry
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, which cast coloured patterns onto the white plaster walls.
The dedication service for the chapels was held on 7 February 1967.