Westminster Coroner's Court Garden of Remembrance SW1
Westminster Coroner’s Court Garden of Remembrance, completed in summer 2018, is part of project that includes also the renovation of, and an extension to Westminster Coroner’s Court, a Grade II listed, late Victorian building on Horseferry Road in London SW1. The courthouse is situated very close to the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and to some of the major civic institutions of the UK. The client is the City of Westminster and Her Majesty’s Coroner for Inner West London.
The Garden of Remembrance is phase 1 of a much larger project that entails the refurbishment of the existing building and the creation of an extension. The garden was completed in 2018 to coincide with the first anniversary of The Grenfell Tower Fire. It provides physical succor and relief for people suffering from extreme emotional and psychic pain. It consists of three fine, creamy-white concrete planters that act also as seating and giant luminaires. Along with an antique limestone fountain (sourced from an architectural reclamation yard), the new elements form a graceful and serene composition of ambiguous figures sat upon a pale stone ground. A vertical concrete element, reminiscent of a niche or doorway, sits against the wall of the mortuary. Its outer edges are finely textured, whilst the inner curved face is smooth; you can catch a glimpse of yourself reflected in its surface, a memento mori of sorts. On summer afternoons sunlight reflects off the surrounding red brick walls, making the white concrete figures appear a fleshly pink. The sound of water trickling in the fountain commingles with the shadows cast by the plants, animating the space and softening somewhat the deliberately rather austere and silent character of the architecture.
Dr Fiona Wilcox, the coroner, recently commented: “There is no doubt the new garden space has had a positive effect on the Coroner’s Service. It is beautiful, simple, tranquil and safe. It is a place of reflection and calm for the bereaved, for witnesses and staff. It is a place for quiet remembrance.
A planning and Listed Building application for the extension and refurbishment works was submitted in February 2020. It is anticipated that building works will commence in Autumn 2020, with completion expected in early 2022