The 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize for the best new international building has been scooped up by Wilkinson Eyre and Grant Associates for their Cooled Conservatories at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. How do the world’s largest climate controlled greenhouses manage to be carbon positive despite the demands of creating a cool environment within the tropical Singapore climate? Read on to find out!
Speaking about Wilkinson Eyre and Grant Associates‘ collaboration for Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay project, RIBA President Stephen Hodder highlighted that “Cooling plants in a sub-tropical climate is necessarily less energy efficient than keeping hot-house plants warm in a temperate climate. Yet here they have produced greenhouses covering two hectares that are carbon-positive”.
Two curved glass structures, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest represent contrasting ecosystems, The flatter curved greenhouse has a mediterranean feel, the other contains a 35-meter-high ‘mountain’, waterfall, cascading vertical planting and walkways through the tree canopy. Both explore the relationship between people and plants and highlight how climate change and destruction of tropical cloud forests threaten the Earth’s biodiversity.
Low-energy glass lets in 64% of available light but admits only 38% of the corresponding solar gain. The domes utilize natural ventilation, while nearby self-powering solar trees expel hot air. Rainwater is collected from the glass roof, stored, and used for irrigation. A biomass boiler provides heat and electricity entirely from the park’s green waste.
Wilkinson Eyre won the same prize in 2012 for the innovative Guangzhou finance centre. RIBA said that the designers “have pushed the boundaries not only environmentally but also structurally, giving the city a new and public landmark.” The RIBA Lubetkin Prize is named in honour of the Georgia-born architect, who established London’s influential Tecton Group in the 1930s.