The World’s Largest Single-Domed Greenhouse Pushes The Boundaries Of Innovative Architecture

Fun fact about greenhouses: growing crops in greenhouses produces 6 to 10 times the amount of yield compared to growing them in open fields. Also, the crops grown hydroponically in greenhouses have relatively small roots so 40% of the drainage water can be recycled for reuse. Greenhouses help us combat the growing food crisis while reducing the overuse of resources. They contribute significantly to sustainable agriculture and help facilitate natural pollination. Now that we are all team greenhouse, let’s look at what is basically the Queen of all greenhouses – the Tropicalia!

Designed by French firm Coldefy & Associates, it will be located on the Côte D’opale in Northern France and construction will begin in 2024. Coldefy & Associates have collaborated with energy company Dalkia for the $62-million ambitious project. The gigantic greenhouse wants to immerse its visitors in a tropical environment that spans over 215,000 square feet and is covered with a massive 35-meter-tall dome. The indoor ventilated temperature will be maintained at 26°c to accommodate the needs of a diverse range of birds, butterflies, fish, reptiles, and exotic plants, fauna, and flora.

With the absence of internal load-bearing columns, Tropicalia integrates with its environment and educates visitors through the large experiential space. The 60-meter x 4-meter double dome provides optimal thermal isolation while the entire building is developed to be energy self-sufficient – so all the heat produced by the greenhouse’s effect will be recycled and stocked! There is a third layer of ETFE underneath the structure which will be capturing all the excess heat. The surplus energy will be exported via a heat network into buildings and surrounding businesses. This takes care of a large drawback of traditional greenhouses which usually require a lot of heat after sundown and generate more carbon dioxide. However, Tropicalia masterfully recaptures and reuses it!

The experience will be nothing less than that of an enchanted forest as visitors are led along a kilometer-long path where they pass by an 82-foot-high waterfall, an 82-foot-long “tactile pool” filled with koi carp, and an Olympic-sized pool filled with Amazonian fish, some even growing up to 3 meters in length! You can either choose to look at these fish through an aquarium-style glass surface or a platform and pontoon if you are feeling adventurous!

At this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, you will be able to catch a glimpse of Tropicalia’s architecture, engineering systems, and sustainable air treatment engineering. It will also include the current state of the research on tropical fauna and flora, and how they benefit the ecosystem, the planet, and our health. Tropicalia’s exhibit wants to showcase how science provides ways of peaceful coexistence between man and nature as we move towards a sustainable future. Tropicalia is expected to attract 500,000 visitors per year when it opens and it is certainly on our bucketlist!

Designer: Coldefy & Associates