Speirs + Major have created an atmospheric night time experience at Shakespeare’s New Place, a commemorative garden built on the site of the house he lived in from 1597 until his death in 1616.
The lighting scheme provides a new perspective of the contemporary landscape, which takes in the footprint of the home, and a series of commissioned artworks recalling Shakespeare’s life and work. Those who visit the site after dark will enjoy a journey of discovery created through the subtle interplay of light and shadow, revealing the garden and its artefacts.
The aim was to enhance the creative vision of designers Timothy O’Brien and Chris Wise, extending the usability of the garden into the hours of darkness while remaining sympathetic to a very famous and sensitive historic site. In addition to highlighting the key sculptural features, the soft landscape was illuminated creating a special sense of enclosure, and a visual reminder of the creative and informal garden setting.
Both the historic nature of the site and a number of ecological issues (including the local bat population), required very careful approach to the lighting. These factors informed the decision for the majority of the luminaires to be ground recessed or floor mounted – with the light carefully directed away from the walls. All the lighting to ‘the artefacts’ had to be tested and coordinated.
All details were artefact-specific. In most cases, lighting had to be integrated much earlier than their actual delivery to the site.
At the garden’s far end, visitors can explore the restored Elizabethan Knot Garden. The lighting focus in this area shifts to a less dramatic, more balanced approach that draws attention to the landscape elements. acdc Plaza 10 surface mounted adjustable luminaires were installed to illuminate the trees, revealing the lush nature of the garden whilst wall-recessed floor washers were incorporated into the perimeter hedge and pergola structure.
The whole scheme creates a contrasting duality in the day and night-time character of the garden – a nod to the blurred distinction between dreams and reality, which have often been a subject in Shakespeare’s plays. The soft landscape is gently revealed, producing a special sense of enclosure, as well as a visual reminder of the creative, informal garden setting.