London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans for a public garden in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to honor the victims of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK capital.
The memorial garden in Stratford will feature a ring of 33 flowering trees as its centerpiece, representing the effects of Covid-19 on the 32 boroughs of the capital and the City of London.
It is designed by The Edible Bus Stop, Davies White and the Rosetta Arts Organization and planted in partnership with the UK’s National Trust Charity.
Garden will be a “lasting memory”
Khan revealed the plans, saying the memorial will invite Londoners to ponder the pandemic that saw thousands of people lose their lives and “change our capital forever”.
He also hopes this will be a reminder of the positive ways in which the capital’s citizens came together to support each other and key workers during the crisis.
“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on our city and country and as we continue to fight the virus, we are creating a permanent living memorial to remember those who lost their lives and pay tribute to the amazing work of our Key pay tribute to workers and create a space for all Londoners to reflect on the experiences of the pandemic, “Khan said.
“This public garden with flowering trees will be a permanent reminder of lost life, a tribute to each and every key worker and a symbol of how Londoners stood together to help one another.”
Project is to be implemented in one of the hardest hit districts in London
Flowering trees are to be used as the centerpiece of the garden as this year’s flowering season coincided with the start of the UK’s first national lockdown.
Eight different tree species are used, which are planted together in three rings. The largest circle will have 17 trees while the other will have nine and seven.
“Coronavirus should inspire us to redesign cities to better support our children.”
Local artist Junior Phipps is also currently developing a path and public benches to surround the site. Funding for the project is provided by Bloomberg.
The London Memorial Garden is due to be laid out in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in early 2021.
The site, which was originally built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, was chosen as it was in Newham – one of the capital’s hardest hit districts by the pandemic.
Newham is also home to the BDP-designed NHS Nightingale Hospital, which was built at the ExCeL exhibition center in April. The hospital is one of several temporary health facilities around the world that were built to increase the ICU capacity during the pandemic.
The memorial garden is part of the program to bring nature into the cities
The memorial garden is the first in a broader campaign the National Trust is running over the next few years to give more people in the UK access to nature.
This follows a surge in awareness of the need for nature in our lives, triggered by the pandemic and the people who are being quarantined with no access to the outside world.
“This space will flourish and become more beautiful as the trees grow and become part of their surroundings,” said Nicola Briggs, director of the National Trust.
“We want to work hard so that together we can design something that is suitable for the neighboring communities. In a place that is thought-provoking and offers more people nature and beauty.”
Angelo Renna suggests turning San Siro into a tree-covered coronavirus memorial
Commenting on this experience, Ukrainian architect Sergey Makhno stated that the pandemic will encourage an increase in urban agriculture. Architect Cristina Monteiro said it should “inspire us to redesign cities to better support our children”.
Garden at the latest in a series of commemorative proposals
Khan’s announcement for the memorial garden is the latest in a series of proposals designed to honor those who lost their lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
This includes the nature-related proposal by the Italian architect Angelo Renna, who envisions that 35,000 cypresses will be planted in Milan’s San Siro stadium.
Latin American architecture firm Gómez Platero recently unveiled a design for a circular monument called the World Monument to the Pandemic, which is said to be in the form of a large sculpture installed on the water off the coast of Uruguay.
The main photo of the Olympic Park is from Tom Wheatley via Unsplash.