Polycarbonate walls enclose buildings in the Phoenix Botanical Gardens
American companies 180 Degrees and CoLab Studio have created an educational facility and a greenhouse in the Arizona desert with polycarbonate facades that bring soft daylight into the interior.
The Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science is located in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Local firms 180 Degrees and CoLab Studio worked with the garden to devise a master plan for the centre’s 85,000 square feet (7,897 square meters) campus.
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Phoenix, Arizona
“This horticultural campus is the heart of the Desert Botanical Garden and offers world-class facilities that promote the art and science of maintaining the garden’s prestigious plant collection,” the team said.
Three buildings have been completed since the master plan was approved: Greenhouse West, the Marley Horticulture Learning Lab and the Ahearn Desert Conservation Laboratory. Future facilities include a headhouse and additional winter gardens.
A large greenhouse belongs to the facility
At 5,184 square feet (482 square meters), the West Greenhouse is the largest of the new buildings. It offers space for the cultivation of various types of cacti, including rare specimens.
The steel-framed facility has a white polycarbonate cladding – a material that brings diffuse light into the growing space. The building is crowned by a sawtooth roof and above it a wide, metal canopy with movable, perforated aluminum slats.
Sunset at the Desert Conservation Laboratory
On the ground floor there are two metal cylinders for storing rainwater that is used in the greenhouse.
On 161 square meters, the Learning Lab offers space for lectures, workshops and laboratory work.
The learning lab is clad with colorful polycarbonate panels
Rectangular in plan, the building is crowned by a sloping roof. The exterior is encased by polycarbonate panels in gray, blue and green tones.
On the south facade, fins made of salvaged wood help shade a series of slit windows. Glazed openings on the north and east facade of the building ensure transparency and a connection to the outside space.
Tinted polycarbonate blurs cacti in Part Office’s Santa Monica Greenhouse
The last building is the Desert Conservation Lab with a total area of 204 square meters. The building is roughly trapezoidal in plan and has a facade made of galvanized steel and copper.
The buildings on the horticultural campus are criss-crossed by sidewalks, desert landscapes and shady rest areas. Particular attention was paid to separating the publicly accessible structures of the campus, such as the learning lab, from more operational facilities.
Native plants grow in the greenhouse
“The garden needed a means of separating the ‘front’ from the ‘back house’ operations in the horticultural center while also giving the public some access,” the team said.
Therefore, the Great Wall of Boulders, a high partition made of 24 boulders and a number of gabion cages, stretches across the campus.
The boulders come from a quarry in Arizona
Each boulder is partially buried underground to support its weight. To build the wall, over 436 tons of rock were extracted from a quarry in Kingman, Arizona.
“Gardening volunteers installed PVC irrigation bags in the gabions to create vertical gardens that simulated the desert canyon microclimate that native species would be happy to cling to,” the team said.
They form the Great Wall of Boulders, which stretches across the campus
Other projects with plants include a botanical garden in China with three huge domed greenhouses and a sliding lattice greenhouse added to an office building in Santa Monica.
The photograph is by Bill Timmerman.