French architecture firm Coldefy has revealed its latest ambitious project: the largest single-domed greenhouse in the entire world. Spanning over 20,000 square meters (215,278 square feet) the gigantic energy self-sufficient structure, christened “Tropicalia,” is set to be completed in 2024 in the Cote d’Opale, or Opal Coast, in France.
Designs will be on display from May 22 to November 21 at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, where Coldefy and interdisciplinary not-for-profit Zuecca Projects will showcase architectural models, sketches and videos detailing the grand plans for the dome.
Renderings revealed ahead of the international exhibition show a sleek dome nestled into the lush, rolling plains of France’s natural landscape. Described by Coldefy on its website as a “bubble of harmony,” the structure – which will house a tropical forest featuring a range of flora and fauna, from orchids and butterflies to fish and reptiles – was built to incorporate the natural environment. As such, the 35-meter-high (115-foot) design is partially embedded in the ground and blends into the landscape with the addition of a second outer wall of greenery.
The roof will be crafted from pressurized thermal pillows set into an aluminum frame – they are similar to the cushions used in a grouping of domed greenhouses at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. Inside, the dome will be heated to 82.4°F, a temperature that ensures “luxuriant vegetation,” according to the press statement. Technology called Terraotherm will recycle the structure’s thermal energy, with surplus heat siphoned to surrounding buildings.
Like many exhibiting at the Venice Biennale this year – which follows the altruistic theme “How will we live together?” – Coldefy’s founding architect Thomas Coldefy designed Tropicalia with the health of the planet in mind. For Coldefy, the data surrounding climate change is too often consumed “unwillingly,” he said in a press statement, and its oversaturation means the data can quickly become “a new source of anxiety.” Tropicalia, however, is meant to be a place of wonder as well as education, providing an opportunity to experience the fragility of the earth’s ecosystem up close.
Elsewhere in the biennale, environmental concerns are set to dominate the show. The Nordic pavilion will be transformed into an experimental co-housing project aiming to reduce energy consumption and cut carbon emissions by architects Helen & Hard. Meanwhile, the Taiwan pavilion will spotlight five existing architectural projects that explore the island’s ongoing dialogue with nature and investigate how Taiwan’s current population of 23 million can be sustained inside its ecologically diverse landscape.