Fira are the lead designers for a new, and ambitious, living memorial for the National Memorial Arboretum and National Forest Company to recognise service and sacrifice, and remember all who died due to the Covid-19 pandemic

The development of 25 acres of land at the northern end of the existing Arboretum is part of a new and ambitious vision for modern remembrance which has sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion at its core. Neighbouring quarry operator Tarmac donated the 25 acre plot on which the new living memorial will be created. The existing scrubland and silt pond will be transformed into an inspirational living landscape, representative of the changing seasons, where people can gather to reflect and contemplate the impact of the pandemic. The design narrative embraces aspects of the site’s existing character and the opportunities and constraints, whilst shaping the visitor experience. It invites visitors to fully engage with the site by including layers of meaning; providing opportunities for interpretation and contemplation. Our design is arranged into two interwoven themes; water and woodland, each providing a clear narrative through which visitors can explore different perspectives on the pandemic:


Along the main linear avenue, a variety of dynamic and interactive water features are used to explore aspects of our shared experience of the pandemic. As visitors progress along the avenue, they can participate in a sequence of interactive water features, each designed to evoke a different emotional response, symbolic of our shared experiences at different points in time.



Woodland planting is used to create a more intimate setting for a reflective journey of individuals’ accounts and opportunities for storytelling. Visitors are invited to reflect on the diverse ways the pandemic has affected lives, providing opportunities to learn about each other’s experiences and to celebrate those who made a positive contribution. Careful curation of visitors’ journey through the memorial provides a series of themed spaces along meandering woodland paths, each providing a stage to play-out the varied personal perspectives.

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