WaterAid Garden set to flourish in new home at the National Trust’s Manchester ‘sky park’ after winning Gold at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

18 June 2024
The WaterAid garden at Chelsea Flower Show, London, May 2024.
Image: WaterAid/ Oliver Dixon

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WaterAid is delighted to announce the relocation of its striking Gold medal-winning garden from this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show to Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester, where it will inspire even more people to think about sustainable water management.

The WaterAid Garden will stand at the entrance of the Victorian-era Grade ll listed steel viaduct in the heart of Manchester, which was opened as a sky park by the National Trust in 2022, providing vital green space and helping preserve part of the city’s industrial heritage. 

Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester

The charity’s garden, which celebrates water as our most precious resource, was a collaboration between architect Je Ahn and landscape designer Tom Massey, and both the garden and its relocation were made possible thanks to support from the grant-making charity Project Giving Back

The centrepiece of the thought-provoking design is a planted rainwater harvesting pavilion, which filters and stores rainfall for irrigation, while also slowing the flow of heavy downpours and providing shade. The structure was inspired by WaterAid’s work alongside communities around the world to develop relevant and sustainable clean water solutions and build resilience to climate change. 

Almost one in ten people globally do not have clean water close to home, and climate change is making the situation worse, as a staggering 90% of all natural disasters are water-related.

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid Chief Executive, said: 

“We are delighted to partner with the National Trust for the relocation of The WaterAid Garden to the iconic Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester. It’s an exciting move to a great community space, which will enable more people to visit the garden and be inspired to use water sustainably and learn about the crucial role of rainwater. 

“The climate crisis is a water crisis, with more frequent and extreme floods polluting water sources and droughts drying up springs. At WaterAid, we are working alongside communities on the frontline of the climate crisis globally to ensure a reliable supply of life-changing clean water. It is this work that has inspired our garden, and its new location will serve as a living example of how innovative water management can create beautiful, functional green spaces here in the UK, as well as sharing the powerful message that clean water changes lives.”

The National Trust envisions Castlefield Viaduct as a permanent, free park and community meeting place, a vibrant space where people and nature coexist. It celebrates the viaduct’s historical significance, while embracing innovative, sustainable solutions. The conservation charity recently announced its ‘phase 2’ ambition to extend the sky park to the full length of the 330-metre-long viaduct, subject to planning approval, as well as its longer term ‘vision’ for the site [1]. While a large proportion of the funding for phase 2 has been provisionally secured, the Trust is keen to hear from anyone who wishes to lend their support and turn the plans into a reality for Manchester.

National Trust Director of Gardens & Parklands, Andy Jasper, said: 

“Making Castlefield Viaduct the new home of The WaterAid Garden will mark a huge milestone in our efforts to create a vibrant urban horticultural oasis in the heart of Manchester. It will also help us weave sustainable, environmental solutions into the day-to-day running of this beautiful historic space. Rainwater harvesting is one of those important solutions and has been tested using water-butts on the deck during the project’s first phase. WaterAid’s stunning rainwater harvesting pavilion and climate resilient planting are the perfect next step as we move into the new phase of our ‘sky park’.

“The WaterAid Garden, together with the plans we recently announced for phase 2 of the viaduct, mean the future of Castlefield Viaduct is looking very bright indeed. We are so grateful to Project Giving Back, WaterAid and Tom Massey for this fantastic addition to the already very popular Castlefield Viaduct. It’s brilliant that the garden can continue to inspire people to think about climate resilient gardening. We couldn’t be prouder to be able to bring this multi award winning scheme to Manchester.”

The relocation of The WaterAid Garden to Castlefield Viaduct is intended to begin in October this year, with construction commencing in February 2025 and welcoming visitors to the newly enhanced viaduct in summer 2025.

Elisa Davies from Project Giving Back, said:

"We are delighted that The WaterAid Garden is being relocated to the iconic Castlefield Viaduct in the heart of Manchester where it will join a growing family of legacy gardens for good causes supported by Project Giving Back across the UK. As a proud Mancunian myself, and not unaccustomed to rainfall here in the North West, it will provide an incredible source of inspiration and joy for thousands of visitors each year, helping us all to become more water-wise and efficient as the effects of climate change begin to bite."

Designer Tom Massey said:

“I’m really excited about the relocation of The WaterAid Garden to Castlefield Viaduct as a natural new home – providing a green haven that celebrates water as our most precious resource while showcasing the power of harnessing rainwater.

“The garden also features a colourful array of plant species designed to deal with varying amounts of rainfall. I hope it will make people think about sustainability and biodiversity in their own gardens, how they use water, and the types of plants that are resilient in the face of climate change."

Je Ahn, architect with Studio Weave, said:

“By moving The WaterAid Garden to the Castlefield Viaduct we aim to blend sustainable, innovative design with historic architecture. The rainwater harvesting pavilion will create a dramatic entrance to this historic site. In the context of increasingly extreme weather, it conveys a powerful message about the value of rainwater, while practically helping to conserve the resource – this is an example of how architecture can provide solutions to our biggest challenges, like climate change. I am proud to be part of this transformative project."


For more information, please contact: 

Laura Crowley, PR manager, [email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 4965, or call the after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or [email protected] 

Sian Thomas, External Communications Officer, [email protected] or 07787 105833

Notes to Editors:

[1] Full details of the phase 2 plans for Castlefield Viaduct can be found here: Press Release | Media | National Trust


 WaterAid is an international not-for-profit determined to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. We work alongside communities in 22 countries to secure these three essentials that transform people’s lives. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets.

For more information, visit our website wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress, or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

  • 703 million people in the world – almost one in ten – don’t have clean water close to home.
  • 2.2 billion people in the world – more than one in four – don’t have safe water.
  • Almost 2 billion people in the world – one in four – lack soap and/or water to wash their hands at home, if they have a place at all.
  • 1.5 billion people in the world – almost one in five – don’t have a decent toilet of their own.
  • 570 million people in the world – 1 in 14 – have a decent toilet but have to share it with people outside their family. This compromises the privacy, dignity and safety of women and girls.
  • Almost 400,000 children under five die every year due to diseases caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. That's more than 1000 children a day, or almost one child every one and a half minutes. 
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs.

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2023). Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2022: special focus on gender. Available at: washdata.org/reports/jmp-2023-wash-households-launch (accessed 11 Jul 2023).  

[2] WHO (2023). Burden of disease attributable to unsafe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene: 2019 update. Available at: who.int/publications/i/item/9789240075610 (accessed 24 Jul 2023).

[3] WaterAid (2021). Mission-critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery. Available at: washmatters.wateraid.org/publications/mission-critical-invest-water-sanitation-hygiene-healthy-green-recovery (accessed 1 Nov 2023).

About the National Trust 
The National Trust is an independent conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation's heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to look after places so people and nature can thrive. 
We care for more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline, more than 1 million collection items and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves. In 2022/23 we received 24 million visitors to our pay for entry sites. The National Trust is for everyone - we were founded for the benefit of the whole nation, and our 5.7 million members, funders and donors, and tens of thousands of volunteers support our work to care for nature, beauty, history for everyone, for ever. 

For more information on the National Trust visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

About Project Giving Back

Project Giving Back (PGB) is a unique grant-making charity that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. PGB was launched in May 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating effects on UK charitable fundraising - effects that have since been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. It intends to fund up to 60 gardens at the show from 2022 - 2026 that will all be relocated or repurposed to locations around the UK as a lasting legacy for the charities that have inspired them.

Find out more at www.givingback.org.uk