The Magic Garden is a new interactive garden for families, designed by landscape architects Robert Myers Associates on the site of King Henry VIII’s former tiltyard at Hampton Court Palace.
We were approached to create an after-dark experience for the garden. In keeping with its character, we created a journey of magical discoveries by using light to transform each of the individual character areas. Visitors are able to explore this series of lit ‘jewels’ from the context of a relatively dark landscape, giving the experience a heightened sense of adventure.
Having been greeted by a spotlit perching griffin on the gatepost, visitors pass through the sculpturally lit Strange Topiary Garden and onto the Tournament Ground. This is a large open space overlooked from the west by the King and Queen Tiltyard Towers, resplendent in blue and red with their latticework cupolas revealed in silhouette.
Behind them, a soaring aerial walkway links three further towers. We marked this out by grazing light to the textured mesh balustrades and adding dramatic spotlighting to the crossed supporting columns, creating shadowplay across the activity zones beneath. Each of the towers is themed to represent a different aspect of Tudor history, and is purposefully lit in contrasting shades of monochromatic coloured light to create distinctly different experiences.
Other highlights include the ‘Perspective Pergola’, with its illusions of scale and distance, and the ‘Mythical Beasts Lair’, featuring dramatically spotlit creatures set amongst a dense forest landscape. The giant ‘Dragons Nest’ is created by artist Tom Hare, and takes the form of an elliptical woven willow structure that glows deep red within. The dragon itself – a huge 30m long sinuous red sculpture - comes alive to terrifying effect with RGB LED lights set in the eyes and nostrils to pick up bursts of water and vapour that pour from it’s nose and mouth.