Danish firm modernises past project

Tuesday 16 Sep 2014

C. F. Møller Architects returns to Aarhus Universitet to rebuild original hothouse & install 18m-tall ETFE tropical greenhouse

In 1969, C. F. Møller Architects designed a hothouse for the Botanic Gardens in the Danish city of Aarhus. Fast forward 45 years and the scheme has been relaunched following the completion of a new 18m-tall tropical greenhouse at the site, after the original hothouse was quite literally ‘outgrown’.

Working with Søren Jensen Engineers and the Realdania Foundation, C. F. Møller Architects has created a new 1,242 sq m tropical hothouse which speaks to the existing form, alongside the renovation and rebuilding of the 2,071 sq m hothouse dating back to the 1960s.

Tom Danielsen, architect and partner at C. F. Møller Architects, explains: “The competition [for the project] sought an independent and distinctive new palm house, but it was essential for us to ensure that the new building would function well in interplay with the old one.”

The original volume now incorporates a botanical knowledge centre and café, and has been connected with the tropical greenhouse at the University of Aarhus site. Within this greenhouse visitors are able to access an elevated platform to experience the tropical plantlife from the treetops.

Maintaining the correct climate throughout the year was pivotal to the design, and the team opted for a transparent dome with ETFE foil cushions in order to achieve the desired environment. An interior pneumatic shading system has also been included in the roof structure.

10 steel arches fan out from the centre, generating a net of rectangular forms which can be easily spotted from many elevated points across the city. Operators can control the translucence of the ETFE cushions by changing the position of printed layers within the roof structure. 

The domed shape and the building's orientation in relation to the points of the compass have been chosen because this precise format gives the smallest surface area coupled with the largest volume, as well as the best possible sunlight incidence in winter, and the least possible in summer

Client: Aarhus University and Danish University & Property Agency
Architect: C.F. Møller Architects
Landscape: C.F. Møller Landscape
Engineering: Søren Jensen A/S
Foil cushion planning: formTL GmbH

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