Davies Alpine House
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew
Surrey TW9 3AB
United Kingdom

Wilkinson Eyre 2005

Wilkinson Eyre's Alpine House, the latest among a distinguished collection of glasshouses at Kew, has an unusual role for an English glass house: to keep the plants cool, rather than warm. This role defines the form of the building: the arched structure provides sufficient height for stack-effect ventilation to provide natural cooling, while the structural glass is unusually transparent (only 1.5% obscurity) to provide the maximum amount of light.

The small glasshouse (150 square meters) rises to 10 meters at the top of the double steel arch. Air flows into the glasshouse at ground level, is cooled as it passes through underground concrete, and emerges at plant-level through pipes in the flower beds. The warming air naturally rises and leaves the building at the top, with the whole structure acting like a chimney.

The result is a delightful building that has become a successful destination for visitors, and provides a beautiful backdrop to the planting both inside and out.

Simon Glynn 2008

How to visit

Kew Gardens is about seven miles to the west of central London, just north of Richmond and south of the start of the M4 motorway.

For detailed visitor information please visit www.kew.org, email info@kew.org or call +44 20 8332 5655.

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