Simpson & Brown Architects with Addyman Archaeology

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The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

The Temperate Palmhouse

Designed by Robert Matheson, the Temperate Palmhouse at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and engineering, with its slender cast-iron columns, curved glass roof and richly decorated arches. When it opened in 1858 the Palmhouse was the tallest structure of its kind in the UK and provided visitors with their first, and perhaps only, encounter with plants from distant places.

In 2002 it was decided that the Palmhouse needed to be comprehensively restored and adapted in order to offer improved physical and intellectual access for all, and in doing so create an exciting new entrance to the glasshouse complex at the Garden. Simpson & Brown's design for these wide-ranging improvements was driven first and foremost by the needs of the plants; those trees which could not be moved exerted a defining influence on detailed proposals. This proved to be a great challenge for everyone involved in the project but the end result shows how a tired and overcrowded structure can be successfully resurrected into a beautiful but functional space which pays tribute to the history of the building, reinforces the work of the Garden as a whole, and recognises the enduring importance of temperate flora to mankind.

Project name: The Temperate Palmhouse
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