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Rainforest Garden, Hanover

The 'greenhouse'as a building type has intrigued architects and engineers for many years and to create one in Hanover (Expo 2000 fayre) to house a tropical rainforest posed new challenges for the design team. The competition entry needed to provide an 'eye-catching' building which reflected current technologies and responded to the site. Given the history of this building type there was a danger that the need to use double glazed glass units would limit the options on the form. The innovative use of ETFE was proposed to reduce by 25 fold the weight of the 'roof skin', thus allowing the 50m clear spans to be supported on only three leaning arches, which formed a stable tripod to support the roof. Once all the tests had been undertaken on the ETFE foil to satisfy the DIN standards, the project commission was confirmed in 1997. This has also helped 'usher in' the extensive use of ETFE as a successful replacement for double glazing throughout the industry. The 'building' was further improved by sinking it 20m into the ground and exposing all the concrete to temper the environment, by making use of the surrounding earth.

CLIENT: Volkswagen VG ARCHITECT: Ray Hole/KSS/Bertram Buneman

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