Light Pyramid, Campbell Park

Nominated by: Claire de Carle
Image courtesy of The Parks Trust

I am nominating the light pyramid because often C20 objects are overlooked. In my opinion Buckinghamshire’s ‘designed landscapes’ are its most important feature, they are found across the whole county in many forms, several better-known examples, Waddesdon, Hartwell, Chenies and Hampden House have also been nominated. This nomination is on behalf of the Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust Research and Recording Project which began in 2014. The aim of the project is to research the several hundred locally important sites identified across the county by Bucks County Council in 1998 plus others such as those in the unitary authority of Milton Keynes.

Campbell Park in Milton Keynes is one of the most imaginative people’s parks to have been laid out in the 20th century and in 2020 it was recognised as being of national importance by Historic England and awarded Grade II listing on the Register of Parks and Gardens. The landscape design which follows in the tradition of English 18th century landscape gardens is loosely based on that of Central Park in New York and was largely the work of Neil Higson of MK’s development corporation. The park is a key element of the planned cityscape which links the urban centre through naturalistic parkland to the Ouse Valley. The park lies on an axis with the shopping centre to the west and rises to a mound in the east offering views to Willen Lakes, the Newlands Tree Cathedral and beyond to Bedfordshire.

Campbell Park from the air, image courtesy of The Parks Trust

The Light Pyramid is situated on top of the mound or belvedere, the highest point of the park where it acts as a beacon for miles around. It is one of eight significant works of sculpture in the park and was created by Liliane Lijn. It was commissioned in 2012 as part of the Campbell Park Art Plan and to replace the basket beacon, which had been situated on the belvedere and was hit by lightning in 2002. The Light Pyramid was first lit to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on 4th June 2012 and is illuminated to commemorate special local and national events. The sculpture stands six metre high by three metres diameter. It is constructed from powder-coated hot-galvanized mild steel plate on a mild steel framework, and it is lit by five metal halide 500 watts floodlights. Geometry and Light are the guiding threads of Lijn’s work, the central concept of this sculpture is that of energy held within matter. Matter assumes form and form leads to geometry, the triangle is the geometrical form most related to light: emission, angles of reflection and refraction, and the prism.

Light Pyramid at night, image courtesy of The Parks Trust

On 14 October 2020, the light pyramid was lit by the Parks Trust when it joined buildings and landmarks across the country, including the White Cliffs of Dover, the London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Salford’s Media City, lighting the landmarks in green to celebrate parks. This was to say a massive thank you to the parks staff and volunteers for all their work during the covid pandemic when parks have been a lifeline to so many people.

Volunteers from Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust, with assistance from the Parks Trust have researched all the major parks in Milton Keynes and their reports can be found via this link:

For information on visiting MK’s parks go to: https://www.theparkstrust.com/

The Light Pyramid was nominated by Claire de Carle on behalf of Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust