Half Dose #49: Orquideorama

The appeal of gratuitous overhead structures is not lost on me. For example my occasional updates on J. Mayer H.'s Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain are due in part to a fascination with the large amorphous structure that includes cafes within the parasol and shades parts of the public plaza below, but which for the most part is pure iconography, functionless excess.

[photograph by Iwan Baan | image source]

The Jardín Botánico de Medellín in Colombia by Plan B, with JPRCR, is in a similar vein. It is apparently justified as a structure that is similarly organic to the flowers and other vegetation within the botanical garden. Even though I can see how the various trunks and flowering extensions connect with each other so an artificial canopy is created, at first glance I don't see how it is necessary. Nevertheless I'm enamored; it's thrilling in design and execution.

[aerial montage | image source]

One function that I've gleaned from scanning the numerous blogs that share an interest in this project is rainwater collection. The section of the honeycomb canopy and the twisting trunks looks geared for such a thing, but the open latticework of the various structures made me question this. But a large section does indicate that the canopy is covered with translucent roofing for collecting rainwater for irrigation. This enables the structure to become a means of control for the botanical garden, limiting direct rain on who and what is below, so the water can be selectively dispersed at a later time.

[plan and details | image source]

The overhead plane of wood lattice is made more interesting by varying the transparency of the different honeycombs, and the perspective of the visitor as they move underneath the canopy.

[photograph by Iwan Baan | image source]

The project also includes enclosed buildings around the base of three of the trunks, clad in the same reclaimed pine as the structure above. These contain a cafe, bathrooms, and some administrative functions.

[image description | image source]

The canopy is most dramatic at night, with uplights illuminating the underside of the latticework. Here it becomes apparent that the project -- still more gratuitous than it needs to be -- is quite literally a canopy, an extension of the trees of the surrounding forest. This formal mimicry, paralleled by the process used by the architects that mimics organic growth, makes for a strong, memorable experience for visitors, an experience that may make them forget about the flowers and other flora they made the trek for.


:: Jardín Botánico de Medellín
:: Iwan Baan Photography
:: Plataforma Arquitectura


  1. this is fascinating - sustainable basket dna - very cool structure

  2. a true delight, reminds me of another pavilion I've read about before... I'll see if I can dig up some info on it for you.

  3. hexagons are awesome to work with ;)


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