China’s first low energy glasshouse opens on 28 April 2014. It is the main Plant Pavilion for the 2014 International Horticultural Exhibition in Qingdao and 15 million visitors are expected over a six month period. With a floor area of 12,800 square meters, it will be the largest public display glasshouse in Asia.
A British Landscape Architecture practice, Weddle Landscape Design is responsible for the horticultural concept for one of the biggest display glasshouses in the world. Qingdao is a coastal city in North China and played host to the 2008 Olympic Sailing Events. The Horticultural Exhibition has been under construction since 2009, and work on the glasshouse has taken three years.
The Plant Pavilion will be a permanent building remaining after the six month Horticultural Exhibition, and will become the focal point of a new Botanical Garden. It will become a key tourist destination for Qingdao.
Weddles are well known in Britain for the design of Sheffield Winter Garden, which draws over 2 million visitors each year. The Qingdao Plant Pavilion will be five times bigger and expects to receive 15 million guests during the Expo.
Weddles design concept is to showcase the conservation of plants from worldwide temperate habitat zones, where native plants are threatened by city expansion. Over a six month period, visitors to the Qingdao Horticultural Expo will be able to see plants from all around the world in less than one hour. They will also learn about the uses of plants, how they have evolved over millions of years, and how man’s activities now threaten some species of plants survival.
Weddles worked with one of China’s largest architectural practices to develop a naturally ventilated environment where temperatures can fluctuate between 6 – 30 degrees centigrade. This is similar to our own UK climate, except that the lowest temperature will be kept comfortably above freezing. The glasshouse exhibits 3000 varieties of plants ranging from bamboo to cactus, palms and tree ferns. There is also an Ocean Tank for seaweed and marine displays and a Cultural Bamboo House.
The architectural concept by Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design and Research is modelled on the image of a falling leaf, organic in shape. The space inside is vast with glazed ceilings high enough for 30 metre high trees to grow. The structure comprises of 15,000 pieces of super-white toughened glass panels, more than 14,000 assembly bars. Triple glazing is used to insulate the indoor environment from climatic extremes of cold and heat. The overall appearance is extraordinarily beautiful, both from outside and within. Weddles worked very closely with the architectural team to create a perfect environment within which plants can thrive.
Principal Mike Browell said “For a British Landscape Architect, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a world class glasshouse display”.
“Some visitors to the Expo will be expert horticulturalists with a good understanding about worldwide plants and many others will just be thrilled to see strange plants from Australia and South Africa alongside those from Chile and California.”
Plant Pavilion | Qingdao China | Weddle Landscape Design
Images & Text | Courtesy of Weddle Landscape Design