There’s something strangely fitting, or perhaps disconcerting, about designing a huge biodome greenhouse, complete with butterflies and hummingbirds in our environmentally troubled world.
Maybe it’s too cold outside, or too hot, and we may be cutting down trees faster than we should, but in northern France, by 2021, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a “harmonious word”.
Called Tropicalia, this will be the largest single-domed tropical greenhouse in the world – a 15,000 square metre biodome with “vegetal” walls, its temperature a constant 28°C, say its French architects Coldefy & Associates Architects Urban Planners.
The absence of load bearing columns that would disrupt views allows a view up to the sky from within.
“Whether it is an invitation into a dream, a grand voyage or an educational trip, Tropicalia is a place of discovery, amazement and ecological awareness,” the architects say.
The vast enclosed landscape in the Pas-de-Calais area will house tropical flora and fauna under an enormous “firmament” of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (EFTE) pressurised air cushions held up by an aluminium frame.
“This unique place will contain a diverse range of fauna and flora, butterflies, exotic flowers, hummingbirds, waterfalls, aquarium basins, fish, turtles, caimans and more… From the exterior, the architecture merges with the landscape: the building is partially set in the ground, diminishing its height and impact. From a distant view, the structure rises like a gentle hill in its natural landscape.”
There’ll be a hotel, gourmet restaurant and a veterinary clinic too. Construction starts in 2019, and completion is scheduled for 2021.