Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Great Glasshouse

The Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales reinvents the glasshouse or as it's more commonly known - the greenhouse, for the twenty-first century, offering a great model for sustainable development and protecting the environment.
Set in hills overlooking the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire, the building forms the centrepiece of the 230-hectare park of the former Middleton Hall.

The glasshouse was designed by the famous British architect Sir Norman Foster.

The largest single-span glasshouse in the world, it contains more than a thousand plant species - many endangered - and conserves specimens from Mediterranean climates around the globe.
The aluminium glazing system and its tubular-steel supporting structure are designed to minimise materials and maximise light transmission.

The toroidal roof measures 99 by 55 metres, and rests on twenty-four arches, which spring from a concrete ring beam and rise to 15 metres at the apex of the dome. Because the roof curves in two directions, only the central arches rise perpendicular to the base, the outer arches leaning inwards at progressively steep angles.

The building's concrete substructure is banked to the north to provide protection from cold northerly winds and is concealed by a covering of turf so that the three entrances on the northern side appear to be cut discreetly into the hillside. Within this base are a public concourse, a café, educational spaces and service installations.
To optimise energy usage, conditions inside and outside are monitored by a computer-controlled system. This adjusts the supply of heat and opens glazing panels in the roof to achieve desired levels of temperature, humidity and air movement.
Perfectly formed technology that enables the growth of life that is perfectly formed. 

Incidentally, I found a striking similarity between the forms of the passage tomb of Knowth and The Great Glasshouse.  Plus ce change (plus c'est la meme chose).

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