Kathryn Gustafson: Diana Princess of Wales Memorial

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Kathryn Gustafson is a distinguished landscape architect who first began her practice in 1980 in Paris, France. A diverse and open-minded designer, Kathryn prides herself in collaborating amongst a variety of different professionals including architects, engineers and artists. The designer’s background was originally in fashion design, but eventually she found her way towards landscape architecture and moved to France to study at Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage. In 1980 she graduated and began her private practice, where she individually received many of the higher profile landscape projects for large corporate companies including Shell.  Her private office has now merged and developed into two more notable firms: Gustafson Porter based in London and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol in Seattle.
    A key aspect found in many of the designer’s works is the use of water. Gustafson uses thin sheets of water believing these features “to be magical because of their adaptability,” as well as the calming and reflective nature that the water gives the space without the need for a fountain or larger piece. One Mrs. Gustafson’s project, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial, embodies this use of water. The site features an oval-shaped fountain in Hyde Park that was created as a way to memorialize Princess Diana’s spirit and love of children. The fountain features 545 individual pieces of cut granite that had a gentle flow of water that follows the natural sloping topography of the site. Each side of the fountain represents different aspects of Diana’s life. On one side of the fountain the bed is smooth and has a gentle flow of water that represents the happy times of the Princess’ life, and on the other the stream bed contains sharp features and curves that causes the water to move in a more infrequent manner. The two sides come together to meet at one common tranquil pool and the base of the fountain. Gustafson’s love of the use of water is used in such a way that it reveals a story of a prominent royal figures journey.

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