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RBWH Early Loss Pregnancy Memorial Garden

A healing space for reflection and remembrance. A memorial space designed to provide a sense of ease and respite to enable the grieving and recovery process.

ClientMetro North Hospital & Health Service

LocationHerston, QLD

Date2018

Memorial spaces are designed to provide a sense of ease and respite to enable the grieving and recovery process.

This project has reimagined the existing memorial space for Early Loss Pregnancy within the Green Heart of Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. The existing space had heritage significance and deep personal significance for bereaved families; however, it was hidden away, run down and had no sense of place or quality.

The Early Loss Pregnancy Memorial Garden has been reimagined to improve its spatial quality and aesthetic as a memorial space. The garden is a sacred space of mourning, remembrance, reflection and healing. It allows for the central gathering space for an annual memorial ceremony to commemorate early loss pregnancies for bereaved families across Queensland, as well as for families who visit on anniversaries and other significant times throughout the year.

Through consultation with Metro North Hospital and Health Service and the hospital Chaplain the significance of the memorial space was understood. The project would create a new and protected space while leaving in place the existing memorial plaque wall, not disturbing the place of significance the memorial stone would be retained. The communication of this was critical to reassuring the connected families that the space would be beautifully restored and that the landscaping works program were accelerated so families could once again visit this important heading and remembrance space

The Early Loss Pregnancy Memorial Garden is integrated within the broader hospital site while having its own distinct spatial quality and intimate scale. The design is built on curved forms that are harmonious and embracing and respond to the existing site qualities. The spiral symbolism represents evolution and holistic growth, the journey and change of life, consciousness and connection.

Forms, colours and planting within the space are calm and uplifting to assist in achieving a sense of peace, support and healing. The planting palette includes year-round interest, textures, scented flowers and plants that flower at the time of the annual ceremony.

The space itself has been extended to accommodate ceremonial gatherings. It has a new gateway as a threshold to signify the importance of the space and has been framed up with edges for privacy and screening from the adjacent precinct neighbours. Decorative screens were designed as a backdrop and to provide enclosure with partial views in and out. Over time climbing plants will cover the framing structures to soften the space and enhance the sense of enclosure.

The new wall sitting in front of the existing alignment preserved the existing garden bed untouched to respect its sacred significance. This wall has a special importance in the space, doubling up as a seating opportunity and as a place for mementos to be left. A new seating space has been integrated for quiet contemplation. The existing memorial plaque wall has been framed and repainted to elevate its presence within the space and better integrate it.

The Memorial Stone has been repositioned in a prominent location close to the edge where it can be easily read.

One of the space’s best qualities is its existing canopy cover provided by mature Jacarandas. The quality is in the amalgamation of canopies; however, the individual trees are showing signs of age and damage. The new space builds in succession planting of Jacarandas to take the place of these as they age.

This is a small and simple space, but big in its importance to the families that visit and in the responsibility the designers and construction team carried in paying it the required level of respect.