The transparent dome of the new tropical conservatory at the Botanical Gardens in Aarhus, Denmark looks like a giant snail moving across the garden's green landscape. C. F. Møller Architekten and formTL engineers designed the energy-efficient greenhouse using ETFE foil cushions and an interior pneumatic shading system. In addition to its many incredible qualities, the structure remarkably changes transparency at different pressures.
The dome’s energy efficiency comes from the fact that its structure allows for the greatest interior volume with the lowest surface area. Ten steel arches radiate from the longitudinal and transverse axis to create a network of rectangles filled with double-layered ETFE cushions. Those oriented towards the south side have two of three layers printed, which can be adjusted to the changes in pressure. These changes, in turn, alter the translucence of the cushions and ultimately, the overall appearance of the dome.
The new greenhouse is an organic design based on energy-efficient solutions and knowledge of materials. The final form was extrapolated from calculations related to atmospheric conditions in and around the dome and is based on the interplay between aesthetics and energy efficiency.
Photos by Quintin Lake