On 22 May 2017, twenty-two people, concertgoers and their loved ones waiting for them, had their lives taken in a terrorist atrocity at the Manchester Arena.
The Glade of Light as a unique memorial landscape with an emotional power and honesty. The abstracted design embraces an emotional response to the ineffability of sorrow and loss. It is a significant place in the heart of Manchester for the personal and communal process of remembrance and healing.
Within a sunny glade, a halo of white stone floats above an ever-changing orchestration of plants. The simplicity of the circle references the infinite and the eternal. Nestled beneath the bronze hearts in the circle are memory capsules, within which the bereaved families have left special memories and meaningful mementoes. The monumental blocks have been split into mirror image pairs, creating a beautiful ‘book matched’ detail effect within the stone’s veining.
A welcoming grove of native trees, grasses, heathers and perennials was inspired by the colours and wild beauty of the nearby Peak District Heathlands. 50% of the hard landscape has been replaced with a bio-diverse planting mix with SUDS beneath. It maximises its positive environmental and cultural benefits within a sensitive conservation area, on a tight and sloping site with multiple utilities and catacombs beneath. The existing pines and Yorkstone paving have been re-purposed as valuable resources.
Inclusivity has been embedded in all aspects of the design, working with representatives of the bereaved families, survivors, local stakeholders and an access-for-all group to ensure input from a wide forum. This previously under-utilised area of the City has now been re-imagined as a significant communal resource.
Seeing people returning regularly to find a quiet moment in the glade and connect with its beneficial emotional and physical restorative powers has been an honour to witness.