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Architecture architecture General

Copenhagen's experimental greenhouse

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by: Sharai Hoekema
copenhagen s experimental greenhouse

Being a true metropolis and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Europe, Copenhagen (Denmark) is a place most commonly associated with all kinds of city-typical views and buildings. High-rise office buildings are interspersed with historical, stately monuments and fancy urban areas. Yet those visiting will be delighted to find, right in the middle of a crowded intersection, a experimental piece of nature. Right next to a busy train station and a road junction that is crossed by thousands of people every day, effortlessly blending in to its environment.

A living, breathing organism

This piece of nature is called “Biotope”, and was created by architect Simon Hjermind Jensen. The artfully designed pavilion is home to a microcosm of plants and insects - housing some sixty different seeds sown into the soil and a beehive, meant to encourage the flourishing and evolving of the ecosystem. 

The shape of the pavilion best resembles an organism or bacteria, and through its translucent shell (which is, in fact, a 4 mm thick polycarbonate membrane), it truly comes across as something natural, while giving outsiders and passersby a unique perspective of the blossoming and flourishing life inside the greenhouse.

Surviving in the harsh city

Additionally, there is no need for a gardener: the greenhouse is self-watering, through the collection of rainwater, that flows to the soil through small holes in the membrane. It also doubles as a bench for tired pedestrians, who can sit on the outer side of the organic bowl and admire the life inside, that evolves fully of its own account, without any outside interference.

This was exactly the question that led to this project: to see how and if a fully enclosed natural microcosm could survive in a city, in those harsh and hostile conditions. As climate change could irreversibly change the world and our ecosystem as we know it, this study seeks to find ways of integrating nature in our lives, even in harsher environments: could it survive inside the homes of people in a global-warming-stricken world? 

While this might sound gloomy and ominous to some, it could be seen as a shining light, a reassurance that, no matter what, we will always be surrounded by nature, even in the harshest of environments.

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