RBG Kew to build iconic structure

Work begins on new glasshouse at world-renowned botanical gardens

Work has begun on Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s new glasshouse. The Alpine House, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, will open next summer. The cost has not yet been finalised. It will be the first glasshouse built at Kew since the Princess of Wales conservatory 20 years ago. The 144sq m glasshouse has back-to-back twin arches and replaces a poorly positioned structure built in 1887 within Kew’s rock garden. It is designed to keep plants cool and dry and needs no air conditioning. Kew head of horticulture Dr Nigel Taylor said: “Kew has a number of iconic structures but this is going to be the first iconic conservatory of the 21st century.” Wilkinson Eyre director Jim Eyre said the glasshouse was designed as an architectural destination as well as a perfect environment to raise the profile of Kew’s “lost” alpine collection. Kew’s management believes the improved facilities, technology and accessibility of the glasshouse reflect the garden’s “ongoing commitment to public education, accessibility and world research”, which will encourage the Government to maintain funding levels. A second series of the BBC2 television programme A Year at Kew is being filmed. On 12 November a programme in the current series will highlight the connection between Kew and the Arboretum Trust at Castle Howard. Head of Kew Arboretum Tony Kirkham joins trust arborist Neil Batty to search Ray Wood for the original layer of Rhododendron thomsonii. Kirkham and Batty layer the stem of the plant so they can return it to Down House in Kent, which the trust is restoring.

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