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Winning design announced for new Australian National Botanic Garden conservatory

Winning design announced for new Australian National Botanic Garden conservatory
October 20, 2016

The winning design for a new conservatory that will transform the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra has been announced following a design competition.

The new conservatory, one of the first major projects stemming from the Gardens’ 20-year masterplan, was the subject of a national design competition announced in April this year.

Receiving a total of 39 entries, from which five designs were shortlisted, Sydney-based architecture firm CHROFI, in collaboration with McGregor Coxall, Atelier Ten, Inhabit, SDA and Toko, produced the winning design, which has been described by Gardens General Manager Peter Byron as a "hovering glass cube".

Named the Ian Potter National Conservatory, the $6 million, 19-metre-high structure will feature a series of rooms aimed at giving visitors an immersive experience while also housing Australia's most rare and endangered tropical plants, including plants from Kakadu and Christmas Island, and will grow seeds from the National Seed Bank.

Constructed of translucent walls of varying transparency, the conservatory will use solar energy to heat the air inside, thereby delivering an environmentally sustainable structure.

CHROFI Director John Choi describes the winning design as “conceived as an entirely new type of conservatory - a gallery for plants for the 21st century.

“Rather than the traditional uniform glass envelope, a series of rooms offer a variety of immersive spaces that provide visitors multiple ways to interact with and experience the living exhibit.”

He added that the structure offers “a more strategic approach to glazing (with) the design delivering world-leading environmental performance.”

Commenting on the planned structure, which is expected to be completed by 2018, Byron stated “they created a design that would really showcase Australian tropical plants, was highly sustainable and would provide an iconic feature for the gardens.”

Released by Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG) in 2015, the masterplan incorporates a host of amenities for the area, including a visitor centre, amphitheatre, wedding garden and function centre, and a treetop adventure ropes course and eco lodge.

Work has already started on the cultivation of plants for the conservatory, with rare and threatened flora from north Queensland, Kakadu and Christmas Island to be exhibited.

Byron added “some of the plants we're going to showcase have never been cultivated before.

"That's the exciting part, there is a bit of experimentation in the plants we're growing."

"We're just really excited to be working on a project which will be a landmark for the gardens and also really different."

The Conservatory is expected to be built by 2018 and will mark one of the first major infrastructure projects for the gardens' 20-year master plan.

Images: An artist's impression of the new Ian Potter National Conservatory, expected to open in the Australian National Botanic Gardens by 2018. Courtesy Australian National Botanic Gardens.

29th May 2016 - CANBERRANS CONNECT WITH NATURE AT NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS DURING OPEN DAY

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10th March 2015 - DAY SPA OPENS WITHIN THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS

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