Hannover Herrenhausen Gardens

A pioneering tropical paradise

A pioneering tropical conservatory that seeds sustainable design principles through the clever creation of microclimates


Long before sustainability became a buzzword in the design industries, we came up with a concept with sustainable credentials at its core. 

A new tropical conservatory at the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hannover required maximum light levels during the dark winter months. The more light a plant receives, the faster it will grow.  

Instead of searching for complex technical solutions we looked to the natural world – and the laws of physics – to find an elegant response.

The Albedo effect, put simply, shows that light surfaces reflect more heat than dark surfaces. Working closely with architect, Ray Hole, and Structural Engineers, AKT, we came up with a design that would put the theory to work.

A tilted domed roof sits above an excavated bowl, creating a large surface area well-lit by natural light.  An ‘Albedo boost’ is added by the careful placement of a pond to the south of the rainforest dome. The water reflects the sun's rays into and around the conservatory, multiplying available daylight when the nights draw in.

Simple landform modelling and the meticulous selection of materials further modifies the microclimate – creating a tropical subterranean world fit for verdant palms and giant lily pads.

By doing away with costly heating systems our conservatory is a textbook example of ‘natural’ engineering, with impeccable environmental credentials.

“We’re always looking for new ways to harness the natural world – it’s the smart way to create inspiring places with a light environmental footprint”