The Winter Garden is a huge tropical greenhouse, recently built right in the city centre of Sheffield (the fourth largest city in the UK). Constructed of wood and glass, it is the largest temperate glasshouse in a European city centre.
At 21 metres (63 feet) high, it is tall enough to enclose whole trees with room to spare, and is home to more than 2000 plants from around the world.
The Winter Gardens represent a sanctuary to me because they are literally an oasis of nature and calm tin a busy city centre. Even when the streets outside are bustling with last minute Christmas shoppers (as on the day of this shoot) the gardens have an air of tranquillity and peace.
Although you can see the sky above you, and the construction site next door, the building isolates you from that - creating its own mini-environment, insulating those inside from the cold weather, and the constant background noise of the city – a sanctuary for those seeking a moment away from reality.
The scale of the space, and the almost eerie, echoey silence gives it the atmosphere of a church or cathedral. Homeless people, seeking a little warmth and peace, sometimes occupy some of the benches scattered throughout the building. In the spirit of sanctuary, they do not seem to be moved on by the staff.
It is a location I have photographed before; it's a good place to test panoramic equipment, having light and shade, perspective and detail all around.