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The Crystal Palace, environmentally considered

  • Henrik Schoenefeldt (a1)

In the nineteenth century, horticulturists such as John Claudius Loudon and Joseph Paxton, aware of the new environmental possibilities of glasshouses that had been demonstrated in the context of horticulture, contemplated the use of fully-glazed structures as a means to creating new types of environments for human beings. While Loudon suggested the use of large glass structures to immerse entire Russian villages in an artificial climate, Henry Cole and Paxton envisioned large-scale winter parks, to function as new types of public spaces. These indoor public spaces were intended to grant the urban population of London access to clean air, daylight and a comfortable climate. Although glasshouses had only been experienced in the immediate context of horticulture, designed in accordance with the specific environmental requirements of foreign plants, rather than the requirements of human comfort and health, they were perceived as a precedent for a new approach to architectural design primarily driven by environmental criteria. The environmental design principles of horticulture were discussed extensively in nineteenth-century horticultural literature such Loudon's Remarks on the Construction of Hothouses (1817), Paxton's Magazine of Botany (1834-49) and the Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London (1812-44). Since the purpose of glasshouses was to facilitate the cultivation of an increasing variety of foreign plants in the temperate climate of Northern Europe, the creation of artificial climates tailored to the specific environmental needs of plants became the primary object of the design.

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arq: Architectural Research Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1359-1355
  • EISSN: 1474-0516
  • URL: /core/journals/arq-architectural-research-quarterly
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