Heatherwick Studio Designs An Unfolding Glasshouse On The Historic Woolbeding Estate
- 11 Jul '22
- 3:27 pm by Sneha Shah
Conceived in partnership with Woolbeding Charity, Heatherwick Studio’s latest project is a kinetic glasshouse sitting on a historic estate in West Sussex. This 141-square-metre structure features ten steel ‘sepals’ with a glass and aluminium façade, taking four minutes to open and resembles a crown. “This is a place and a project that literally unfolds. You step through this bewitchingly beautiful garden and discover an object that starts like a jewel and ends like a crown, as the Glasshouse slowly unfurls,” says Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio. “I think it also speaks of our need to keep creating amazing pasts. Weaving contemporary inventions into the fabric of historic settings and having the confidence to let each one speak to the other.”
The Glasshouse draws inspiration from Victorian ornamental terrariums that were used to transport plants from the Silk Route to Europe. As a contemporary addition to Woolbeding Gardens, the structure is surrounded by Silk Route Gardens, curated as a 12-step landscaped winding journey that showcases the Silk Road – and its influence on British horticulture. “This Heatherwick Glasshouse represents the cutting edge of technical design and engineering but it’s also a restoration of something that is part of Woolbeding’s history,” adds Mark Woodruff of The Woolbeding Charity. “It stands as a crowning achievement in contemporary design, to house the flora of subtropical south-west China at the end of a path retracing the steps along the Silk Route, from temperate Europe and across mountains, arid lands and high pastures that brought the plants from their native habitat in Asia to come to define much of the richness and glory of gardening in England.”
The Glasshouse shelters an impressive, rare specimen of an Aralia Vietnamensis which provides shade for a collection of tender ferns growing alongside umbrella trees, magnolias and bananas. On warm days, this 10-sided pyramidal shape opens its ‘sepals’ using a hydraulic mechanism for sunlight and ventilation; while in colder weather it remains closed.
The Glasshouse and Silk Route Garden is open for visitors on Thursdays and Fridays until September 30.