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New Inhabiting Light Alcove at Nichols Arboretum to Provide Space for Healing

Taubman College

Two Taubman College faculty members are designing an outdoor alcove featuring a light-inhabiting glass installation at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum that will provide space to promote healing for those who are grieving.

Professor of Architecture Catie Newell and Professor of Practice in Architecture Upali Nanda are the principal investigators of Inhabiting Light, along with Bowling Green State University’s Alli Hoag. They recently received support from the Arts Research: Incubation & Acceleration grant program, a collaboration between the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research and the U-M Arts Initiative.

The installation will be in the arboretum’s Magnolia Glade, a site dedicated to the A Walk to Remember and Tree Planting Memorial. Each year, the C.S. Mott Foundation plants a tree at Magnolia Glade to honor and remember prenatal loss. Dedicated to care and reflection, the installation will create a space for rest and privacy as a powerful spatial moment of pause and healing.

The final design will be created in partnership with the Nichols Arboretum and in consultation with groups such as U-M’s Mary A. Rackham Institute and the A Walk to Remember and Tree Planting team. Nanda and students from her Health By Design course will work in groups to experience and measure the space for further research.

The alcove will include several seating locations, providing a spatial embrace with nature. Differently positioned benches and seats will allow both individual introspection and conversations among companions.

The installation will be constructed from prismatic cast glass. Both physically strong and transmissive to light, glass is a powerful material. Its prismatic qualities allow a visitor to be within nature, while also allowing for visual privacy. The reflective and transparent surface offers an ever-changing vista where one can meditate on fleeting moments.

Original story from Taubman College.