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The Glasshouses within Kunming Botanical Garden, KIB
source:Kunming Botanical Garden, KIB     author:David Sim Paterson     2012-05-15

The glasshouse area, along with the Medicinal Herb Garden, has undoubtedly occupied the most significant attention from the staff of KBG and the Kunming Institute of Botany throughout year 2010. The renovation and replacement of the glasshouses is a major undertaking and, when complete, will restore the heart of Kunming Botanical Garden. Most botanic gardens around the world would agree that their glass ranges are the most important part of their horticultural infrastructure and many great gardens possess iconic structures, some of which date back well over a century.

The original glasshouses within Kunming Botanical Garden were in a poor state of repair and, in some cases, posed a threat to public safety. As a result, and a precaution, many of the structures were closed to the public and the glasshouses provided a formidable challenge to the horticultural staff who were attempting to grow a wide range of plants in leaky and drafty houses. With generous support from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it was possible to start the planning process for the renovation and replacement of the structure.

Early planning included engagement with international experts on the design and construction of glasshouses but as time progressed it was decided to proceed with a group of local architects, *******. Gradually the process progressed and KBG was presented with a shortlist of concept designs. The selected design is both iconic and impressive in dimension, covering an area of around 4000 square meters and rising to a height approaching 30 meters.

Demolition and partial demolition of the existing glass range commenced in the summer months and shortly thereafter, the site was laid out and civil engineering work commenced. Work is almost complete on the restoration of the retained structures; the two aquatic houses, the tropical house and the cactus house. Future uses of these structures will not necessarily follow their original function and, for example, the cactus house will be recon-structured and configured as an alpine house.

The major task of constructing the new glasshouse, which is yet to be named, is well advanced and the envelope is almost complete. It is planned that all major construction will be complete by Chinese New Year (end January 2012) and landscaping works, interior and exterior, will commence shortly thereafter. The landscape plan for the exterior space was completed this year and will be revealed in detail in our 2012 annual report.

Throughout this process, the most significant challenge faced by the horticultural team was the transplanting and relocation of mature plants from the old glasshouses into temporary accommodation until such times as they can be re-housed in the new homes. The mature trees within the tropical house were retained in-situ and a special thanks is given to ***** the construction company for the careful management of this area and especially for the timely manner in which they were able re-glaze the structure before the onset of winter. 

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