The World’s Largest Greenhouse Unveiled at This Year’s Venice Biennale

·3 min read

Designs for the largest single-dome greenhouse on the planet have just been unveiled at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Presented by non-profit cultural organization Zuecca Projects and French architecture firm Coldefy, Tropicalia will host over 215,000 square feet of tropical greenery, exotic flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, fish, turtles, caimans, water gardens, waterfalls, and ponds. Years of cutting-edge research have gone into the ongoing plans for the sustainable project, and all of those notes, models, videos, studies, and sketches will be on display at the Biennale from May 22nd to November 21st, 2021.

Interior renderings for Tropicalia Greenhouse, soon to be the world's largest single-dome greenhouse.
Interior renderings for Tropicalia Greenhouse, soon to be the world's largest single-dome greenhouse.

Slated for completion in 2024 on the Côte d’Opale in France, Tropicalia features an innovative 115-foot-tall dome tucked into the rolling coastal hills. The glass roof is shrouded on all sides by a ring of exterior greenery, its edges embedded into the ground to create a seamless effect. It’s made of pressurized thermal EFTE air cushions set into an aluminum frame – a design that achieves optimal thermal isolation so the interior can be maintained at a steady 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. The structure will also be able to recycle some of that thermal energy with technology called Therraotherm, siphoning surplus heat into nearby buildings.

Plans for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse from Zuecca Projects and Coldefy, currently on display at the 2021 Venice Biennale.
Plans for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse from Zuecca Projects and Coldefy, currently on display at the 2021 Venice Biennale.
Plans for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse from Zuecca Projects and Coldefy, currently on display at the 2021 Venice Biennale.
Plans for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse from Zuecca Projects and Coldefy, currently on display at the 2021 Venice Biennale.

Coldefy’s vision addresses the sense of doom that discussions of climate change can bring up for many people. As cities continue to grow and our environment is impacted by the climate crisis, the balance between nature and our built environments can feel precarious and fraught with tension. The Tropicalia exhibition questions the impact of manmade structures in our daily lives and provides an alternative to the unsustainable systems currently failing us. Instead of feeling depressed by all the bad news, we could be working toward new ways of living in harmony with nature.

Tropicalia aims to present an environmental and educational message showing how science can answer the question How will we live together?, itself the title of Biennale 2021.

Plans for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse from Zuecca Projects and Coldefy, currently on display at the 2021 Venice Biennale.
Plans for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse from Zuecca Projects and Coldefy, currently on display at the 2021 Venice Biennale.

A true ‘bubble of harmony,’ it reconnects visitors with the plant and animal world in a region where the climate is often harsh,” says Coldefy. “Tropicalia is a place of discovery, wonder, and awareness, an invitation to dream, travel, and learn. Beyond the exotic interior design, the feeling of immersion is reinforced by the architecture of the greenhouse. The absence of load-bearing posts and the presence of a vegetated peripheral wall accentuate the feeling of a cocoon. The architecture is assimilated to the landscape: the building is partially embedded in the ground, thus reducing its height and impact. From a distance, the greenhouse seems to rise like a slight hill. The height of the dome allows the complete growth of the greenhouse trees, as well as the creation of suspension bridges that will delight the youngest.”

Renderings for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse, the world's largest single-dome greenhouse.
Renderings for the in-progress Tropicalia Greenhouse, the world's largest single-dome greenhouse.

The visitor will discover the engineering and architectural prowess and uniqueness of Tropicalia greenhouse, which has already received the 2018 Architizer A+Awards Jury and Public Choice Awards Winner,” says Zuecca Projects. “As well, several sustainable and innovative systems and materials developed in the architecture projects by Coldefy will illustrate and enrich the comprehension of Tropicalia’s spirit and Coldefy’s philosophy. During the exhibition period, the space will also host conferences with relevant figures of the architecture world to investigate and discuss about the themes and challenges arisen by Tropicalia.”