RBGE ALPINE HOUSE
Location: Inverleith, Edinburgh
Client: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Programme: Completed 2013
This is the first new glasshouse to be built in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for over thirty years and the only one in Britain dedicated to growing alpine plants in a tufa rockscape. The naturalistic display complements the traditional sand-bed displays in the adjacent glasshouses.
The key design drivers were to respond to the exacting living conditions of these plants and to provide an iconic structure which would act as a landmark in its own right.
Alpine plants naturally grow in cold, windy and dry conditions with an abundance of daylight. The glass umbrella modifies the microclimate by providing shelter from excessive rain and increasing wind speed at ground level while transmitting maximum light. Its shape evokes flowers opening to the sun and the angular mountain tops so prevalent in alpine settings.
The plants are grown in tufa, a type of porous rock. It projects beyond the edges of the glass roof to provide new planting beds and appears to form a base to the new structure.
The structural elements were prefabricated in Belgium and brought to site for erection and glazing and the landscape was carried out by the garden’s own horticultural team.
This small but striking project provides the Garden with a dramatic 21st Century addition.