Conservatories around the WorldPublished on 6th September 2015
Moving away from the considerable lifestyle benefits of the domestic structures for a moment, conservatories can be the most remarkable pieces of architecture. Whether bold biomes or elegant arches, conservatories come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re featured all over the world. These are some of our favourite examples of the building that we’ve made our own.
For many people the great conservatories begin and end with the Crystal Palace of The Great Exhibition. Built on what can only be described as an epic scale, it comprised 990,000 square feet of glass, housed more than 14,000 exhibitors stands including elephants and steam engines, and took more than 5,000 navvies to construct. Alas, the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936, so is no longer there for us to marvel at. In its stead we have the building that inspired its creation, Syon Park’s Great Conservatory. Although, at first glance, the Great Conservatory appears typical of the monumental stone orangeries of the 17th and 18th century, this one is a little bit different: it is partly constructed from metal. The use of so much glazing in a neo-classical design was made possible by the then emerging metalworking technologies of the early 19th century. The result is both beautiful and inspiring.
For our next example we’re hopping across the pond to Garfield Park. Covering an area of 18,000 square feet, Garfield Park is one of the largest conservatories in America. Built in 1907, the conservatory consists of 8 interconnected rooms and is now best known for its Palm Room, which homes over eighty species of palm tree. The design is relatively simple, entailing what is essentially one very long tunnel of glass, but it’s the size, the content and the fact that it has been used continually since construction that impresses.
This next conservatory is very much of the contemporary style. We’ve mentioned the glazed structures of Singapore’s award-winning Gardens by the Bay before on these pages, but they’re worth a revisit just for the 115 foot high waterfall they enclose, without even thinking about the stunning architecture. Unlike European conservatories, this one has been created to house plants that prefer a cooler climate. Part of a 101 hectare park created from reclaimed land, the park’s conservatories boast a ‘cloud forest’ and a ‘flower dome’, accommodating alpine and other European species, away from Singapore’s tropical heat and humidity.
To finish we’re back to Blighty, with the contemporary conservatory-like structure that inspired Gardens by the Bay: the Eden Project. Constructed on the grounds of an old quarry, the biomes of the Eden project are like no conservatory ever seen before. Seemingly formed from vast sheets of bubble wrap, the vast globular forms look like something from a sci-fi film without, and like a whole new world within. Filled with towering tropical trees and garden scenes from around the globe, the Eden Project is like an around the world holiday, without the jetlag. As for the architecture, well, it doesn’t appeal to all, but we think it’s stunning.
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