Completion Date: June 2018


Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary, Bringelly, Sydney, Australia
CHROFI McGregor+Coxall

As Australia becomes a more secular society, attitudes to death and dying are changing. This shift in personal beliefs and philosophies is challenging the existing funeral industry and traditional cemetery establishment.

Located on the outskirts of Sydney and set within a conservation woodland setting, Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary is pioneering a new cemetery model. From the outset the design team together with the client sought to challenge what a contemporary cemetery could be. The response was to create a site-wide experience with a specific focus on natural burials without headstones. The first of its kind in Australia, the memorialisation becomes the retention and protection of this unique bush ecology where GPS technology is used to locate the resting place of loved ones.

Continuing this ecological response, and integrated into the design, are a suite of sustainability initiatives including photovoltaic solar panels, integrated rainwater harvesting and reuse, solar hot water heating, passive cooling strategies and an on-site black water system. These initiatives create an “off the grid” facility placing it at the forefront of self-sufficiency and eco-friendly development in the Australian cemetery industry. The new structures feature recycled, recyclable and natural materials and are oriented to optimise the natural light and the iconic Australian bush views.

The visitor experience begins at the entrance where an elevated walkway meanders above the landscape through the tranquil native park leading to the Walled Garden. Visitors experience a dignified transition to this ‘other world’ through a threshold comprising vine covered gabion walls and a rippling line of water that enlivens the powerful entry corridor.

At the heart is the Gathering Place - a multi-purpose open-air pavilion framed by a reflective pond and surrounding picturesque gardens. An adjoining café invites visitors to enjoy a quiet landscaped courtyard with picturesque views and moments of peaceful reflection.

Concealed from the Gathering Place by a lush green wall is the Columbarium Garden - an oasis comprising pathways, shaded seating, meditative pond and a grid of columbarium poles housing purpose designed urns framed by an orchard of flowering trees.

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