Kathryn Gustafson is an American landscape architect that we admire greatly. With over 35 years landscape design experience under her belt, her work is predominantly civic, institutional and corporate, and includes parks, gardens and community spaces.
Most likely best known for designing the award winning, Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, London in 2004, her vision was to express Diana’s spirit and love of children. At a cost of 3.6 million pounds, Kathryn designed an accessible fountain to reflect Diana’s ‘inclusive’ values and personality, “Above all I hope that it provides a fitting memorial for the princess and does credit to the amazing person that she was”.
A lush expansive grass area surrounds the main event, an oval shaped stone fountain. This granite stream bed is quite shallow and is laid out on a gently sloping area of the park so that when water is pumped to the top of the oval it flows down either side. On one side the stream descends fairly smoothly to the downhill end of the oval with gentle ripples. The other side consists of a variety of steps, rills, curves and other shapes so that the water plays in a myriad of ways as it flows to the tranquil pool at the bottom. Such opposing sides of the fountain were intended to represent the two sides of Diana’s life: happy times and then the turmoil.
Given that Diana was a modern, accessible princess, Kathryn’s primary goal was to allow people from all walks of life and all abilities to access the structure and the water for quiet wading and contemplation.
Seemingly simple in its appearance, clearly much thought has gone into Kathryn’s heartfelt design and much dedication has gone into making it come to life.
Described by Ar.Norman Foster, “as having a personal way of going to the heart of the matter and identifying what is required. She then devises landscape solutions that often seem intuitive but are, in fact, rooted in serious research”.
To find out more about Kathryn’s work on this amazing project, click here