The Magic Garden, a new family play garden at Hampton Court Palace designed by landscape architects Robert Myers Associates (RMA). Commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces, it is intended that the new garden will become a landmark destination in the palace grounds.
Located within part of Henry VIII’s former tiltyard, the garden is a contemporary space which embraces the rich historical, cultural and mythical legacy of the Palace to deliver an innovative landscape of discovery that is unlike any other.
A strong design has been developed in which a series of character areas are layered. These include a tournament ground, wildwood, mythical beasts’ lair, strange topiary garden, encampment, and a spiral mount with moat and grotto. Tiltyard towers contain different themes for exploration andlearning. The journey through the garden provides challenges, obstacles and illusions that play withthe notions of royalty, status and scale. Stories of the Palace and its inhabitants are referenced in thefabric of the design creating a sense of occasion and identity.
“We have incorporated playfulness and magic into every aspect of the garden,” said Robert Myers. “It has been designed as a relaxing as well as a stimulating environment, with spaces to pause and rest, as well as places that are truly active and adventurous. Our aim has been to create a garden full of beauty, an essence of escapism and an exciting setting for learning, interaction and expression through exploration and adventure.”
RMA have worked with a number of artists and craftsmen who have created various mythical and heraldic beasts which occupy the garden, including pieces by Andrew Tanser (a steam-emitting head for the 30 metre-long dragon, as well as a panther, yale and unicorn; Harry Gray (a stone lion that magically disappears and reappears), Chris Bailey (a carved griffin and falcon); and Tom Hare who has created a giant dragon’s nest in woven willow. Other members of the design team included Snug & Outdoor (play consultants), The Michael Barclay Partnership (structural engineers), Speirs and Major (lighting designers) and Chapman BDSP (service engineers). The garden was constructed by Frosts Landscape Construction Ltd.
“Although the Magic Garden is clearly a one-off, we specialise in designing contemporary landscapes within historic settings, and have substantial experience of working with artists and craftspeople to commission site-specific art and sculpture, so the Magic Garden has been the perfect project for us,” Robert Myers said.
The Magic Garden
Hampton Court, UK
Design Firm | Robert Myers Associates (RMA)
Images | Courtesy of Robert Myers Associates (RMA)