In late 2021 our client Mehrdad Tafreshi of Quist was approached by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) to create an area of insect sculptures within the Tower of London moat area. This was to be part of Superbloom at the Tower of London, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year.
Starting in Spring 2022, wildflower seeds were sown in the Tower’s moat, creating a vibrant wash of flowers and grasses that continuously evolved, varying in height, texture and colour throughout the Summer. The planting scheme was designed to attract insects and seed-eating birds, creating a biodiverse environment for wildlife. This planting transformed the moat into a wildflower meadow within the City of London.
The moat, which is an area of 14,000 square metres, has seen many uses over the years since it was drained. It was once a medieval orchard and a livestock grazing ground in Victoria’s reign. During World War II it was turned into allotments as part of the Dig for Victory drive. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee saw it re-landscaped as a more formal garden display and in recent years it housed the ‘Poppies’ and ‘Flames’ installations. ‘Superbloom’ is intended as a permanent transformation, with the plants being cut and left to reseed naturally for the following year.
The project was conceived by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) – the charity which cares for the Tower of London – and took several years of planning. They worked with experts in urban horticulture—landscape architects Grant Associates and the University of Sheffield Planting Design and Urban Horticulture Department to bring the project to life. Their design included a requirement for several sculptures and installations to add drama and additional interest for the visiting public, to encourage them to engage up close with the wildflower spectacle. With his emphasis on trees, insects and natural forms created from a variety of metals, Mehrdad was a perfect choice to be asked to contribute to the project.
Mehrdad approached us at Tangent to help him develop plans and designs for the installation. We also visualised his ideas for the sculptures so that the team at Historic Royal Palaces could understand the concepts and work with him to develop and implement the proposal within the overall scheme.
Tangent helped Mehrdad interpret Grant Associates’ CAD plan drawings for the location of the installation, enabling him to grasp the scale of the area allocated to him. We then worked through four stages of design visuals with him discussing and developing the designs until they were perfect. One issue was that the insect sculptures and their mountings are relatively fragile so we had to keep them distanced from the public, especially children while keeping to the brief of close engagement. The final solution retained the effect of fragile, delicate insects hovering in the air above their heads while ensuring the elements closer to the ground were robust but in keeping with the theme.
The visuals evolved from initial hand-drawn rough sketches to the final entirely digital visuals using a partial photomontage approach.
It is hard to get exact figures but thousands of people have visited from the UK and abroad. There are 2,784 reviews on Tripadviser alone.
While taking photographs for the case study we overheard one lady saying to a volunteer guide that she really loved the sculptures and that she had seen Quist at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show.