Design Engine Architects Ltd.

Ph. +64 7 849 2935 or +64 21 138 37 39.   Email.   Post. P.O.Box 4237. Hamilton East 3247. NZ


Pellows Funeral Home - Hamilton

Project Website


Pellows Funeral Home additions and alterations have recently been completed to create a "state of the art facility" in Grey Street, Hamilton East - New Zealand. Bledisloe Holdings Pty Ltd Australia, own 60 Funeral Home facilities across Australasia. Design Engine Architects Ltd has worked for 3 years with Clients Ron Grinsell - Property Portfolio Manager - Bledisloe Brisbane and Beth Richards - Manager of Pellows to realise this project and White Rose Chapel in Cook Street, Hamilton East. The existing Pellows Funeral Home consisted of a 200m2 historic 1930'3 House on a 682m2 site in Hamilton East. The Funeral Home has been in operation since 1963, pioneered by Gordon Pellow and previously had a functioning mortuary in the 1980's. The new additions include the following: covered drop off, garage with auto door, holding room, double mortuary, trim room, viewing room, admin office, manager's office, staff kitchen, change rooms and upgrade of the interiors of the existing front of house. The site is flat with views of Pirongia Mountain from the upper floor.


The Architect's design concept was to let the House stand proud and prominent against a recessive, neo-modern new building like a "painting on a white canvas". The intention was for the addition to be humble, understated, elegant and simple. The extension is sensitive to the heritage aspects of the existing Pellows House and Hamilton East context where there has been an erosion of historic buildings and established trees by developers.

The design allowed for the old House to be restored with new roof, insulation and painting, demolition of the existing ad hock additions and the creation of a new 120m2 double storey building, which allows for more space to accommodate additional staff and new technology. The building materials are concrete floor, feature concrete block blade walls and linea weatherboard walls with a profiled metal roof and skylights. The weatherboard and metal roof materials on the new addition make reference and create a connection to the existing House. Views of Pirongia Mountain have been maximised from the stair landing and manager's office. The Architect has used bold, bright colours in the interiors to give the new addition an uplifting and contemporary aesthetic. Design Engine Architects are a member of the New Zealand Green Building Council and have incorporated the following Environmental Sustainable Design Principles into the design: recycling an existing building, orientation of the long axis of the building towards North as well as skylights to maximise natural light, use of concrete block as a thermal sink and energy efficient design for Electrical, Lighting and Mechanical.

The new mortuary is now one of the finest facilities in New Zealand. Design Engine Architects Ltd are Award Winning Practice that provided the Architecture and Interior Design services.


The project was built by Construct Ltd over a 7 month period, completed end of March 2010.


Property Portfolio Manager: Ron Grinsell - Bledisloe Holdings Ltd - Brisbane - Australia

Pellows Funeral Home Manager: Beth Richards

Architect/Interior Designer: Mark Wassung, Abigail Prestidge, Douglas Ho - Design Engine Architects Ltd

Structural Engineer: Alan Park - Holmes Consulting Structural Engineers.

Mechanical & Electrical - Ken McKenzie and Werner Maritz - Innerscape Building Services

Contractor: Construct Ltd - Graeme Parlane, Keith Parlane, Trevor Rhodes, Grant Gibbons

Site Foreman: Construct Ltd - Nick Adams



Kathy Graham - Waikato Times 31.08.31 page 13

Death can be a costly business. A no-frills basic package is priced around $2000 but the average cost is closer to $7000. And with changing times, those organising their loved ones' farewells expect a higher level of service from funeral directors. Hamilton East business Pellows Funeral Directors is investing $500,000 to improve the level of service it provides. Manager Beth Richards said Pellows, operating from the same site since 1963, will demolish part of the existing building to make way for a new two story facility, which will allow more space to operate in and accommodate an increase in staff. Mrs Richards said while demand hadn't necessarily increased, the level of the service people wanted had risen. "The expectation of our clients and what we can do for them has changed," she said. "Whereas at one time all you had at a funeral was the casket and flowers, nowadays we produce service sheets, signs, cones for parking, donation boxes, photo boards, portable sound systems, even balloons sometimes. You need somewhere to store those items." Large items such as a lifting machine for putting caskets on racks all took space, she said. The additional space will allow more flexibility for clients with the addition of a second viewing room and a new mortuary. "We need to look after our staff as well and when you are using chemicals you have to be very mindful of health and safety issues." Local registered architect Mark Wassung from Design Engine Architects Ltd worked on the project and he said the extension was "sensitive to the heritage aspects of the existing house and Hamilton East context". Mrs Richards said the small size of the site was a challenge for the architect. "The areas of the building being demolished are add-ons we will be keeping the original house." The new double story addition at the rear of the existing house will give an additional 120sq m of space. "We have grown a bit topsy-turvy so things have just been added in as we went. At the moment we have eight people trying to work out of one small office." Describing the expense of the renovation as a "two-edged sword", Mrs Richards said successful businesses were "always looking at their costs"' "I think the fact we are willing to reinvest is a good sign." With only two funeral homes in Hamilton until the 1990s, the city now has five. There are about 800 deaths per year in Hamilton City but Mrs Richards said the demographics of the population showed those numbers would increase as "the baby boomers age". She said there was also an interest in the number of people wanting to join the industry. "we have two people in their 20s with us at the moment, but also we have had people change careers to enter the industry. It is a hugely satisfying job. It is very much about providing a service and by investigating money in our facilities we will improve the level of service we provide."



I have worked with Mark Wassung of Design Engine Architects Ltd for the past three years, on the refurbishment and extensions to our site at 138 Grey Street.

Our project has had many challenges with the limited size of our site, what we wished to achieve, and the technical and specialised nature of some of the work, as we installed a new mortuary that was subject to various health requirements.

I have appreciated Mark's passion for his work. Alongside his obvious creativity and innovative ideas, Mark is very aware of sustainability issues and has good cultural awearness.

Above all, I have appreciated Mark's exceptional communication skills, spoken and written. At all times he has communicated well with all parties involved, and kept very good records. He also exhibited very good listening skills and had the ability to see "through the clients eyes".

Most of all, we at Pellows, have a wonderful new working environment that will take our business into the future. It has jointly met the needs of our staff and our clients.

I would recommend Mark to anyone contemplating the need for an architect, and I look forward to following his career and his designs in the years to come.

Yours faithfully Elizabeth M. Richards