Great Glass Buildings of the World: The Great Glass House at the National Botanic Garden of Wales
Readers of our blog will know that as well as cleaning glass in its many shapes and forms, we spend a little time each week musing on the versatility of glass as a building material and documenting some of the most impressive glass buildings in the world. Our appreciation has taken us to many a far flung place, so for a rest today we’re staying closer to home to look at an immense glass house in Carmarthenshire.
The Great Glass House takes pride of place in the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire and is impressively the largest single span glass house in the world. The dome covers 4,500 square metres and is used to preserve some of the world’s most endangered plants. Take a look at some photos to understand the scope of this amazing glass construction.
The dome was designed by Norman Foster and Partners and is described as looking like a “giant teardrop.” The gardens are relatively new, opening in 2000 but they’ve done wonders for Welsh tourism by attracting many visitors and have won awards aplenty.
Construction of the Glass House
The elliptical glass house consists of 785 panes of glass, each measuring 4m x 1.5m. Each pane is constructed of two 9mm thick sheets of glass sandwiched together by laminated film. The glass house faces south to make sure the dome gets as much sunlight as possible throughout the day.
Under the Dome
The primary purpose of the glass house is to preserve plant life from around the world, ensuring the survival of many endangered plant life species. The dome is zoned into six areas that replicate the landscape of the Mediterranean Basin, the Canary Islands, the Californian coast, Chile, South West Australia and the Cape Province of South Africa. Each zone has plant life from the specific area and the temperature and environment of the dome replicates the areas with appropriate changes in light, shade and terrain.
Cleaning the Glass House
This spectacular dome must really take some cleaning to make sure it looks and performs at its best. We would clean it with water-fed poles and may employ the use of cherry pickers if the terrain around the dome was level enough to support the machinery. On a wet, cold day like today though we’d definitely rather spend the time inside the dome, which is heated to replicate the Mediterranean climate that the plants all enjoy in their natural habitats, rather than outside in the wind and rain!
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