The Sheffield Covid Memorial is a poignant and meaningful sculpture located in the heart of Sheffield city centre designed by George King Architects. Situated in the city’s Balm Green Gardens and made from Sheffield Steel, the design of the memorial is inspired by the beauty and strength of the willow tree. Formed from bent stainless steel tubes, the branches of the tree, twist and turn before coming together to create the trunk, a symbol that as a community we are stronger together and that by supporting each other we can withstand adversity. The willow tree has a limber and supple structure that bends to accommodate strong winds and adverse weather instead of breaking meaning it has become a symbol of resilience. Architecturally the form of the Willow tree with its far-reaching branches hanging down to the ground creates a welcoming, sheltered, protected space underneath which can be used for people to gather, remember, and leave flowers on anniversaries.

The lighting design was developed to support and enhance the architectural inspiration and focuses on using reflections within the sculpture to enrich the materiality and forms. The lighting scheme consists of an unbroken glowing ring uplight within the heart of the sculpture which strengthens the concept of resilience and creates a canopy of reflections within the protected space. Around the perimeter 11 grazing spotlights frame the space and illuminate the intricate forms of the sculptural branches.

Each lighting element is controlled individually to create dynamic effects reflecting the themes of the Covid pandemic. Soft dimming of the ring symbolizes the rhythmic breath of mechanical ventilation, while a “intermission mode” portrays the pause in life during the pandemic with spotlights changing intensity clockwise in a gentle chase.

The dynamic lighting creates a slow transition in the intensity and colour temperature of illumination from sunset to curfew. In addition, the RGBW inner ring provides opportunities for the piece to be transformed to support and reflect local and national awareness days, anniversaries and events which complement the themes of community, strength and resilience.

Lighting brings the piece to life at night, turning a forgotten piece of the city into a warm and welcoming place to remember and reflect and creating a symbolic and moving experience for visitors.

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