Great Glass House

Foster + Partners, Carmarthenshire, 1999

 

Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

The single span glass roof caps the top of the hill 

Nick Hufton/VIEW and Nigel Young (website)     Download Original

  • The single span glass roof caps the top of the hill    
  • The Great Glass House is the largest single-span greenhouse in the world    
  • Foster and Partners’ Great Glasshouse on the rolling hills near Camarthen is the largest single-span greenhouse in the world and is a breath of fresh air for modern architecture in Wales    
  • the glass envelope, supported on a tilted ring-beam, creates a good solar collector.  The building is billed as the largest single-span greenhouse in the world    
  • the glass envelope, supported on a tilted ring-beam, creates a good solar collector.  The building is billed as the largest single-span greenhouse in the world    
  •  openable panes of glass create an airflow throughout the building which ventilates it and provides windflow to encourage normal plant growth    
  •   the glass membrane seems to cap the top of the grassy mound out of which it rises    
  • At present the immaturity of the Mediterranean planting emphasises the theatrical man-made landscape of terraces and ravines    
  • At present the immaturity of the Mediterranean planting emphasises the theatrical man-made landscape of terraces and ravines    
  • At present the immaturity of the Mediterranean planting emphasises the theatrical man-made landscape of terraces and ravines    
  •     
  •     
  •     
  •     
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Glass roof plan    
  • Cross section    
  • Section    
  • Long section    
  • Elevation    
  • Torus    
  • Working detail:  EXPLODED SKETCH OF ROOF CONSTRUCTION, at high point of ring beam    
  • Working Detail:  DETAIL SECTION AT BASE OF TYPICAL ARCH, at low point of ring beam    

The largest single-span greenhouse in the world, dedicated to Mediterranean plant species

The distinctive shape and size of the structure grew directly out of the existing site conditions, notably a shallow oval platter of land that had been created in front of the old Cockerell house.

The site sits at the top of a gentle hill, slightly off-axis with the long approach path leading up from the car park and visitors’ entrance – a circular timber ‘gatehouse’ based on the shape of an ancient Welsh roundhouse, also designed by Foster + Partners.

From this approach, the glasshouse has low visibility, and does not dominate the terrain. The glass membrane seems merely to cap the top of the grassy mound out of which it rises.

The problem of having a single enclosed area meant that the idea of having separate climatic areas was eventually abandoned. Professor Stirton preferred to focus on a single integrated climatic environment. The building is dedicated to Mediterranean plant species, taken from the five Mediterranean regions of the world.

Data

  • Begun: Jul 1997
  • Completed: Mar 1999
  • Floor area: 5,439m2
  • Sectors: Education, Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £8.9M
  • Tender date: May 1997
  • Procurement: Construction management
  • Address: National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8HG, United Kingdom

Professional Team

Suppliers