Birmingham-based landscape practice Fira has recently completed a masterplanning project for the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
The NMA is home to the Armed Forces Memorial, which gives thanks and recognition to those who have died on duty since the Second World War. The site, which consists of 150 acres of wooded parkland in Staffordshire’s National Forest, has attracted an increasing number of visitors since opening in 2001 and is now set to double in size. Fira’s masterplan will see the site transformed into an exciting horticultural experience that reflects its significance as a memorial.
Honouring the armed forces also lay at the heart of another project undertaken by Fira: the design of the new Margaret Thatcher Infirmary at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, which will provide residential and healthcare facilities for war veterans.
The site of the new infirmary is located in a conservation area and is set among buildings by renowned architects such as Wren and Soane. Fira’s design for the gardens and courtyard complements the surrounding architecture through the use of simple, high-quality materials and plants that have been carefully selected for colour, texture, form and fragrance. With plenty of opportunities for sensory stimulation, the gardens are also designed to provide therapeutic benefits to the less physically able and the cognitively impaired.
The design as a whole strikes a balance between aesthetic values and the practical issues of safety, functionality and the cost of ongoing maintenance.