Kew Gardens’ Glasshouses

Kew Gardens are a huge Botanical Garden southwest of London, in Richmond. You can walk around for a day and not see it all.

In the middle of the 19th century, as the garden grew to 26 hectares, the director decisided to build a glasshouse to shelter tropical palms. The architect Decimus Burton and the ironfounder Richard Turner designed a glasshouse of pure form, the Palm House, which reminds me of the Obscure City Calvani’s buildings.

Palm House A ship on a lawn

Built in 1848, in cast iron and glass, its shape is based on curved circular sections, the center of the glasshouse being roughly twice as high as the aisles.

Geometry This structure is reminiscent of the upside-down hull of a ship, the edges of the aisles are a half-circle, their geometry answering the palm leaves they shelter.

Each aisle and the center of the building are topped by a long gallery.

Decoration Inside

The Palm House exterior shape is very pure and balanced, but inside most of the white structural elements feature decorations, which are sometimes entangled with vegetation.

StaircaseSteam Tropical atmosphere

As the Palm House shelters tropical plants, steam jets are used to create the atmosphere they need, materialising the light.

Among the big palm trees you can see silhouetted by the setting sun, the whole range of big to small plants live and climb.

Temperate House Temperate House

Built in 1899, the Temperate House is another of Kew many glasshouses.

In my opinion, its angular outside shape lacks the curved beauty of the Palm House, but it is very high and shelters huge palm trees. Its structure is also of cast iron.

Another very interesting greenhouse is the tent-looking Princess of Wales glasshouse, built in the 1980s, as it assembles various closed spaces with different climates and of different sizes.