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Woolbeding Glasshouse, Kinetic architecture

Working with Heatherwick Studios to create an elegant but practical piece of kinetic architecture in glass, Eadon provided the conceptualisation and mechanical design support for this large, moving glass structure.

Key facts

Location


West Sussex, UK

Client


The Woolbeding Charity

In Partnership with


Heatherwick Studios, Atelier Ten, Bellapart

The Woolbeding Glasshouse was designed as part of an £11m development of these historic National Trust gardens in West Sussex. The vision for the recreation of the Woolbeding Gardens was to create a site representing the Silk Route, with the variety of fauna represented throughout a walk that would lead to this iconic glasshouse. The kinetic structure is 15m high and 143m2, with ten aluminium framed glass sepals that open and close to control the humidity and temperature for the tropical plants housed inside. Eadon were asked to design a method of achieving the movement of these sepals so that the kinetic structure would be robust and reliable, whilst maintaining the elegance of the design and, crucially, not intruding on the visual aspect of the design.

Eadon developed the concept of the mechanical equipment which opens and closes the sepals, providing initial option studies, concept reports and support for the build phase, which was undertaken by Bellapart.

Key challenges in designing a system to control the movement of such a large, heavy structure included the need for this kinetic architecture to be operated remotely, but with visual impact through synchronicity and with the feeling of a flower ‘unfolding’. The sepals take four minutes to open using hydraulic actuators designed to ensure the safety of the public and any personnel working in the vicinity.

 

Following the award of the construction contract, Eadon provided a reviewing and advising role on the detailed design to ensure that the finished installation was not only visually striking but also remains reliable and maintainable.

 

Image credits: Hufton + Crow, Raquel Diniz of Heatherwick Studios

 

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