Greenstone design

Greenstone design DEFAULT



Greenstone Design UK was established in 2006 to design healing, healthy landscapes as natural playgrounds, sensory gardens and outdoor classrooms in schools. Since then dementia gardens, residential care facilities, pubic health and mental health providers have enjoyed the cost advatanages 

Greenstone Design UK Ltd brings a combined 60 + years of international  experience, horticultural knowledge, landscape and garden design combined with interior design, and a working dose of Feng shui, to each commission. Our passion is to design to make a difference, socially, environmentally, ethically and economically. Sharing that passion is what motivates us to write, speak and train others.  We pride ourselves on delivering environmental design solutions on time and within budget.

An award-winning design consultancy at the forefront of salutogenic landscape and urban design, Greenstone Design UK is known internationally for work with disabled adults and children, developing natural play solutions and outdoor teaching and learning environments. This experience combines to bring an innovative approach to healthcare garden designs.  The prevention of lifestyle-related disease is at the heart of our designs, in every setting. In collaboration with public health practitioners we use evidence based environmental design in the management and prevention of depression, diabetes, type 2 diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and lower respiratory disease. 

Our small team comprises landscape architects, garden designers, interior designers, environmental education teachers and trainers. We share a love of joined up thinking, working collaboratively, cost effectively, and making a difference. 

Greenstone Design UK combines environmental and commercial interests to make a difference socially. Sustainable landscape design has a new importance in this age of climate change and general environmental degradation.  Where we work, study and play shapes who we are and how we relate to the world around us.

We are professional members of the Association of Environmentally Conscious Builders,

Our mission





£6.32k ▲ £1.24k (24.51 %)


£0k ▼ £0k (NaN)


£11.19k ▲ £0.3k (2.75 %)

Net Worth

£-4.87k ▼ £0.94k (-16.23 %)

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Company name
Company number
Private Limited Company
Date of Incorporation
25 Jun 2009
Age - 13 years
Home Country
United Kingdom


+44 (0)7813 512 981
07813 512 981
0221 968 899
Registered Address


Urban planning and landscape architectural activities




28 Aug 2016
Annual return made up to 25 June 2016 with full list of shareholders Statement of capital on 2016-08-28 GBP 5
29 May 2016
Micro company accounts made up to 31 March 2016
22 Jan 2016
Total exemption small company accounts made up to 31 March 2015

See Also


Last update 2018


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Theo Brown


25 June 2009
15 July 2009
New Zealander
3 The Glade, Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom, GU10 4LU

Domes for the dead: Soulton Long Barrow by Sacred Stones and Greenstone Design

The Soulton Long Barrow in Shropshire eschews modern bland funerary practices to provide a respectful, numinous experience harking back to ancient stone construction

Funerals are not for the deceased but for those they have left behind, rituals that give meaningful structure to the paralysing trauma of grief. Having a set of customs to lean on is a crucial support in navigating the confusing wilderness of bereavement; yet, for many, the contemporary rituals of mourning that 21st-century architecture and its attendant ceremonies have to offer feel profoundly inadequate.

At a recent memorial, I was struck by the overwhelming blandness of the out-of-town Test Valley Crematorium where the service was held. We entered through a pared-back brick portico to a barn-like hall with almost no features other than a lightly moulded lintel spanning a central alcove with a crucifix to the left and TV to the right. Odd, I thought, for this barren room to host the final send off for a friend who was as theatrical a character as they come.

After the ceremony, I spotted the next funeral party, largely Sikh, already arriving at the portico while the crematorium staff quietly swapped the crucifix for a khanda. Suddenly the plainness of the architecture made sense. The crematorium provided the basic spatial infrastructure for tears to be shed and bodies to be incinerated with the most cost-effective balance between limited personalisation options for mourning customers and profit margins for shareholders. The crematorium was built by Westerleigh Group, which in 2019 ran over 42,000 funerals across a chain of 34 crematoria turning a profit of over £38 million. Their venues are almost all identical with minor architectural tweaks appeasing local planning committees. Even the moulded lintels and TV screensavers are identical across nearly all sites – mass-produced architecture for the mass disposal of humans.

Westerleigh is the face of contemporary funerary architecture in Britain: stale and profit-driven spaces where off-the-shelf ceremonies are sold by an industry at best unable to console, and at worst exploitative of, the bereaved. It is a chronic problem that requires urgent architectural reimagining, as Karla Rothstein and Christina Staudt argue in AR March 2021. Yet, into this troubled context has stepped an unlikely disruptor: not a designer, but a farmer.

Tim Ashton is an Oxford law graduate who, unlike many peers from agricultural families, returned to work on his parents’ farm in Shropshire after university. There he has been pioneering ‘no-till’ cultivation in which fields are never ploughed but enormous numbers of worms aerate the soil instead. Now, in collaboration with alternative funeral and barrow-building company Sacred Stones, who also operate the barrow, and architects Greenstone Design, Ashton has built the second long barrow to be constructed for over five millennia. ‘Early conversations with the planners resulted in entirely excusable bafflement’, he says. ‘The call centre script certainly does not run: “for neolithic-inspired megalithic community funerary monuments, press nine”’, but after some years of perseverance the barrow is finally complete.

Limestone boulders signal the entrance to the barrow, with a gate designed by Giles Smith of Assemble

Credit:Heiss Rourke

A long barrow is a mound-like earth monument, many made with chambers for the interment of human remains. There are around 40,000 long barrows across Europe dating from the fifth millennium BCE, the stone versions of which are potentially the oldest examples of stone construction in the world. Nobody knows exactly what purpose the barrows served. Many are older than Sumerian script, the most ancient of written languages, and belong firmly in the murky realm of prehistory. Whether they were predominantly funerary monuments, religious sites or territorial markers can only be speculated upon by archaeologists, but for Ashton, the exact function is unimportant; their enigmatic presence across the landscapes of Europe already tells us something of the communities who made them. ‘Built of soil and stones, they are monuments to people, but of the earth’, he says. ‘Their building and stewardship requires, and is an expression of, community; in outlasting many empires they are an expression of enduring memory.’

Shropshire’s newly completed long barrow comprises two circular chambers beneath a huge mound of earth, their walls set with niches for the interment of ashes beneath domed stone roofs. In the deepest chamber, which with a near 30-metre circumference is grander than the first, a single stained-glass window provides the only source of light apart from candles. At the barrow’s entrance, three massive stones form a rustic portal to the mound with an anodised steel gate designed by Giles Smith of design collective Assemble. The gate incorporates rows of chevrons, a motif widely used by Neolithic Europeans, and faces north-east towards the barrow’s counterpart: a huge earthen henge.

The niches in the inner chambers are lit by flickering candles and a single stained-glass window

Credit:Heiss Rourke

The henge, comprising two vast crescent-shaped mounds cupping a central plateau, forms an amphitheatre for performances or funeral ceremonies surrounded by a moat. A bank of raised land runs from barrow to henge flanked by water-filled ditches and out the other side establishing a strong axis, soon to be completed by a standing stone. Both barrow and henge are oriented precisely so that on the morning of the solstice, the Shropshire sun will rise exactly on this axis, streaming between the amphitheatre’s crescents, through the barrow’s chevron gate and first chamber into its hall within. Riffing off similar alignments of original barrows and other Neolithic stone circles and henges from millennia ago, it is the kind of cosmic pyrotechnical design move that can be found in the ruins of ancient civilisations the world over, but is rarely used in today’s architecture.

There is no didactic pagan symbolism at play here. Ashton and his collaborators are simply creating a rich container for meaning which those who choose the barrow as their last resting place can fill with their faith or project other meanings onto. ‘We have wit enough to observe and interpret things beyond our planet’, says Ashton. ‘We can add meaning by the act of observation and interpretation.’

A neo-Neolithic mound unobtrusively rises from its Shropshire plateau

Credit:Heiss Rourke

Soulton Long Barrow is an example of neo-Neolithic architecture – an embryonic movement, almost completely ignored by the architectural press, seemingly attempting to revive something of construction traditions that predate even the wheel. Tim Daw, another farmer with a flare for innovation, built the first new long barrow in collaboration with Martin Fildes – who went on to co-found Sacred Stones in Wiltshire in 2014 – and new round barrows (which differ in form from their longer siblings) have already been erected in Cambridgeshire and the Warwickshire borders. In Dorchester, natural burial ground providers Peter and Joanna Vassie are now building a warren-like round barrow that will be filled with deep blue glazed ceramic urns to hold ashes.

Frank Lloyd Wright wrote that no house should ‘ever be on a hill’ but ‘of the hill’ pithily summarising his view that great architecture evokes the organic qualities of its context, but the neo-Neolithic acolytes are more extreme, not creating refined naturistic allusions but rendering spaces with a palpable elemental rawness that consciously recalls a time before even Abraham. Of course, there is some rusticated trickery; the Soulton long barrow’s first chamber is load-bearing stone while the second contains hidden concrete reinforcements, but the truths on offer here are far more enticing than truth to materials.

‘There is no didactic pagan symbolism at play here. The barrow is simply a rich container for meaning, a final resting place that can encompass faith or not’

There is something undeniably powerful about the barrow. Ashton is sceptical of phoney mysticism, insisting ‘I really don’t know if I personally believe in such things’. But trudging the zigzagging processional path past standing limestone boulders to the barrow’s entrance, a tiny black maw in the airy agrarian landscape, then stepping through this crack to the underground chambers beyond, is electrifying. I’m not talking about spookiness but of the atmosphere of transcendence which certain powerfully atmospheric spaces create. Its relative warmth on a freezing winter morning, entombed as it is by insulating earth, is uncanny. Its gloom – light years from the sterile logic of Part L and similar construction standards – is warm and comforting. Its strangeness, unlike any familiar architectural space, gives it an otherworldly quality. Rebar or not, the barrow assaults the senses in the way Sigurd Lewerentz’s chapels or Monet’s vast paintings do, propelling the visitor to feel they may have stepped, just for a moment, onto another plain. Celtic Christianity has a term which Ashton likes: ‘thin space’, meaning a place where the boundary between mundane preoccupations and the sublime is especially porous. The barrow is a thin space.

Many would argue that building long barrows thousands of years after the original barrow builders died out, however atmospheric, is sentimentalising the past, turning the mysterious phenomenon of ancient monuments into kitsch commercial products. But all the best architecture of mourning is deeply kitsch. Think of Žale Cemetery in Ljubljana, designed by Jože Plečnik to feature a smorgasbord of small chapels cobbling together Greek, Byzantine and Asian traditions. Or Gunnar Asplund’s Woodland Chapel in Stockholm whose keyhole is set in the eye of a grinning skull. Or Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light, illuminated only by a skinny cruciform window. These are demonstrably kitsch details, so unsubtle in their symbolism that they are almost comical, yet the architecture is so much richer for them.

The processional approach to the barrow is surrounded by a moat and leads to an unassuming mound rising from the earth. It is strategically situated for the sun to rise on the solstice and stream between the amphitheatre’s crescents, through the chevron gate and the first chamber into the hall within

Credit:Heiss Rourke

Rituals, objects and architecture get called kitsch when they feel mawkish. But today even mildly sentimental gestures can seem soppy compared with the passionless computational logic of market capitalism. Ultimately, something is kitsch only relative to the practices that are normalised by its wider context, and who is to say that normal equals good? Writing off gestures that reach for something beyond the possibilities of the present blindly venerates the status quo and strips us of the opportunity to find meaning outside our immediate cultural context. Yes, the germinal neo-Neolithic architecture of Soulton Long Barrow and similar projects is kitsch, but who cares? Death without a final flourish is a drab prospect indeed and by unashamedly embracing ancient subterranean monumentality and landscape-scale axes, Ashton and his collaborators have created a remarkable space for mourning, far more numinous and affecting than the monotonous, dreary crematoria most Britons say their final farewells in.


Phineas Harper

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