Contemporary funeral home designed as series of small linked volumes

Moderon funeral home by Tse Arhitects with wood screen for privacy and sun shading, vintage hearse displayed in glass garage

Large timber veneer sliding doors in the Harbour ceiling, floor, flooring, furniture, interior design, product design, wall, gray
Large timber veneer sliding doors in the Harbour City Funeral Home can be used to close off specific areas. The reception desk incorporates a mix of timber veneers. The design is by Tse Architects.

High profile is not a phrase normally used in association with a funeral home, but there's no doubt that both the prominent location and design of this new home raise the profile of the business.

Director Phill Jones of Tse Architects, the firm commissioned to design the new Harbour City Funeral Home in Upper Hutt, says the site is right beside a roundabout on an arterial road.

"This is a very high-profile location it was formerly the site of a post office that the company had converted for use as a funeral home. But it is also is a mainly residential neighbourhood, so it was important that the new building blend in and not look out of place in the low-rise environment.

"Consequently, we chose to break down the scale of the building by creating a series of small, linked volumes. Using a mix of cladding materials, including solid plaster, cedar weatherboards and full-height glazing helps to further break down the form of the building."

Associate architect Andrew Bluck says cedar slats across the facade facing the main road introduce a horizontality that also helps to soften the raw, monolithic look of the box-like forms.

The cedar screen on this new funeral home architecture, building, condominium, daylighting, facade, line, lumber, sky, wood, black
The cedar screen on this new funeral home helps to soften the raw, monolithic look of the box-like volumes. The screen also provides privacy for the chapel behind. The design is by Tse Architects.

"It provides privacy as well the screen blocks much of the direct vision into the chapel while still allowing plenty of natural light to flow through. This creates a wonderful play of shadows on the inside of the building, as the position of the sun changes throughout the day."

Another key feature of the exterior is a glass-box garage, which serves to display the company's vintage 1936 Packard hearse.

"This is a recognisable showpiece for the funeral home, and a great advertisement for the business."

Jones says Tse Architects has worked on other projects for Harbour City Funeral Home and had already established an identifiable branding for the company.

"It's a simple, contemporary styling with similar materials although we don't prescribe a cookie-cutter design, there is a unity to the look."

This new funeral home, designed by Tse Architects, ceiling, conference hall, flooring, function hall, furniture, institution, interior design, room, table, orange
This new funeral home, designed by Tse Architects, has a chapel that can seat 130 people. It features comfortable, locally manufactured pews made from macrocarpa wood. The coffered ceiling is accentuated by feature lighting.

On the interior, this can be seen in the sleek timber veneers and the design of the reception desk, which features a mix of dark and light veneer.

Bluck says the small size of the original premises on the site was a key reason for the new building, which needed a much more flexible design that acknowledged the sensitive nature of the business. Large operable doors can be used to close off different areas, creating intimate spaces or opening them right up to cater to large groups. The reception area and client rooms can also be used while a service is under way, with no disruption to either group.

The chapel can seat 130 people, but glass sliding doors can be opened up to accommodate another 70 people in an adjoining area. There is also an adjoining refreshments lounge. Other facilities on site include private viewing rooms and administration offices.

Credit list

Harbour City Funeral Home (Upper Hutt)
Interior designer
Penny Angell, Tse Architects
Macrocarpa, manufactured by Ferndale Furniture
Landscape design
Moorhead and Newdick Landscape Architects
Tse Architects – Phill Jones, Andrew Bluck, Dion Palamountain (Wellington)
Structural and civil engineer
Main contractor
Armstrong Downes Commercial

Story by: Trendsideas

11 Dec, 2014

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