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Canterbury Earthquake Memorial Garden

with Andrew Ingham and Andrew Lavelle

Location: Canterbury Christchurch, New Zea Land

Status: Competition Entry 2014

185 timber columns, each representing a victim of the disaster, are arranged side by side, forming a square at the rear of the site. These columns create the inside formwork for rammed earth walls, enclosing an intimate garden of remembrance – families of the victims and the wider community are invited to participate in adding shovels of earth to the formwork. When the formwork columns are removed (void and loss) a beautiful stratified object will emerge, a physical and visual reference to the earth from which the disaster manifest.

Within this space lies a peaceful, introspective garden, at the heart of which is a single column of water, representing the shared loss of the city. Once removed from the formwork, the 185 columns are scattered across the site to create a landscaped park, defining spaces for congregation, leisure, reflection, and the structure of a new bridge. Having formed the memorial space through their presence, then absence, the symbolic columns are given a new life in the formation of a beautiful new landscape for the collective enjoyment of the community and a space in which to remember.

The follies and memorial landscape within the site seek to provide appropriate and varied atmospheres for remembrance: cascading gardens, an amphitheatre to provide public informal areas, the plinth and bandstand to provide a formal counterpart to open public areas, the pontoon to provide private informal space for reflection and the formal walled garden which offers a focal point and an appropriately scaled space for private reflection.

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