Designing A Memorial Garden

This week, I have been designing a memorial garden within the ruins of a medieval chapel, for those who need somewhere to go to remember loved ones.


Memorial Garden designed by MAAC Studio Conservation Architects Inverness


Within classical aesthetics certain geometric forms take on symbolic meaning. The square and the cube are associated with the earth. Solid and stable. The sphere and the circle have a more spiritual connection associated with perfection and purity, the everlasting no beginning and no end.

Between these two there are a range of shapes and volumes that describe the transition from one state to the other, from the cube to the sphere; hexagons, octagons, cones, etc. Taking this classical geometry as a starting point, we have developed stone columns, based on the octagon, the intermediate shape between this world and the next.

We have also reflected on the intuitive movement from the earth to the sky that is associated with the passing of life. The columns rise out of the ground, combining different coloured limestone transitioning from dark grey at the ground to lighter stone. The centre of the columns are carved and textured to mark the dissolution of physical bonds to the earth as the columns ascend.

Inspired by the Giants Causeway, the ground plane also continuous the visual theme, covered in octagonal paving, with grass allowed to grow between the cobbles, to create a soft informal feel. It enhances the continuity between the earth and the columns.

The columns are grouped together, but with a small-gaps between each which allows plants to grow between them. Each column is a different height, reflecting on the irregularity and differences in nature, evoking images of a wild flower meadow.

Each column is inscribed with a memorial to a loved one.


MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. 

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