Princess Diana Memorial, KATHRYN GUSTAFSON, Contemporary, LONDON, England, 2004 AD

Image 1: view of Princess Diana Memorial on subtle hill

Princess Diana is a beloved figure and icon in British culture. She was known as the “people’s Princess” and was well known for her caring and approachable personality. When she unexpectedly died, her loss was mourned around the world. Though she is buried on her family’s private estate, Princess Diana Memorial (image 1) located in London was designed as a public recognition of her cultural importance. Princess Diana Memorial is located in Hyde Park, London’s largest of the central city parks (image 3). The Serpentine is the waterway in the center of Hyde Park that is not only picturesque but used for recreational purposes as well. There are many memorials throughout Hyde Park, but placement of the Princess Diana Memorial near the banks of the Serpentine defines a premier location.

Image 2: plan of Princess Diana Memorial

The diagram for the project is a demure circular plane in the landscape on a gently sloping hill (image 2). The plane carries a continuous band of moving water. Princess Diana Memorial is designed in a contemporary style where, instead of monuments focusing on a human figure to represent the masses, an abstract image is accentuated. If not an abstract image, contemporary memorials can also express the individuality of the person by physically representing names such as at Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial or World Trade Center Memorial. Princess Diana Memorial is meant to be accessible, much like Princess Diana’s life.

At Princess Diana Memorial, people are encouraged to fully integrate with the memorial, crossing over the water to the grass in the center or engage within the water (image 8). There are two main materials, water and granite (image 4). Gustafson designs the light gray granite as a plane that carries the water in a circuitous path. The water is expressed in a number of different forms and textures. At one moment, the water is a thin slice, moving smooth and fast. In another, the water is wider with great texture, cascading over a ruffled stone (image 6). In other locations, small jets create gentle bubbles on the plane of water (image 5).

Plan of Hyde Park

Image 3: view of Hyde Park (and Kensington Gardens), where Princess Diana Memorial is located in London 


Image 4: view of granite and water at Princess Diana Memorial

Picture of water at diana

Image 5: view of water jets at Princess Diana Memorial


Water of Princess Diana Memorial

Image 6: view of water cascading over ruffles at Princess Diana Memorial

The memorial is immensely popular. With millions of annual visitors, the site needs yearly renovations to maintain peak condition. Viewing the art form of construction is a great way to learn how materials work in reality and come together (image 7).

Construction image of princess diana memorial

Image 7: view of construction at Princess Diana Memorial

Picture of Child Playing in princess diana memorial fountain

Image 8: view of Princess Diana Memorial and accessibility

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Exploring Architecture and Landscape Architecture Copyright © by Aimee Moore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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