A fragment of a greenhouse built to express their importance in the history of the European garden.
The building, designed in 1992, was conceived as a reference library and research centre on plants as well as a public performance space for theatre, conferences, exhibitions and other municipal events. It was also envisaged as a peaceful sheltered space and tea house within the 5 hectare landscape designed by Kathryn Gustafson.
The greenhouse leans symbolically against the hill. Its clear, flat glass roof reflects, like a lake, the changing sky and the foliage of the surrounding trees.
The glass fixing is the world’s first application of a structural connection within the interlayer of laminated glass, allowing the surface to have no visible metal fixing.
The steep incline of the site, and the need to retain the soil in the garden led to the idea of using ‘gabion’ – steel mesh cages holding stones – for the greenhouse walls. The greenhouse gabions are freestanding curved vertical cantilevers, and allow the building to “breathe” naturally. Internally, the wall is lined by citrus trees. The building fabric creates its own internal micro-climate throughout the year.
The concept sought to highlight the contrast between a highly processed and sophisticated building material and the unprocessed stone from the local quarry. The use of gabions as a primary building element is thought to be the world’s first such application. The building was completed in 1994, and the new park and greenhouse opened to the general public in spring 1996.