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Architecture to create 'The Hothouse' in the heart of London's Stratford

The structure of The Hothouse is reminiscent of a Victorian glasshouse and will provide a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate. 

IQL is a new neighborhood in the heart of Stratford and on the doorstep of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The area has a rich tradition for growing under glass and was historically once dominated by a 20-mile stretch of greenhouses along the Lee Valley corridor. In the 1930s, there were more than 1,300 acres of greenhouses facilitating the production of ornamental plants and flowers, and exotic fruits at the time such as grapes and cucumbers. 

The environment of The Hothouse can be regulated and adapted to suit the plants within. Garden Designer Tom Massey has collaborated with Studio Weave to develop a concept for the planting scheme that includes a vast array of productive plants from all over the world: an edible jungle of exotic and unusual species. 

The crops that will be grown include guava, orange, gourd, chia seed, avocado, pomegranate, quinoa, mango, sweet potato, lemon, sugarcane, chickpea, loquat and pineapple.  Scientists predict that if the current rate of climate change continues to accelerate, all of these crops could potentially be grown outside in the UK by 2050 – highlighting the reality of a rapidly changing climate. 

The Hothouse will be in situ for a year, displaying the variance and evolution of plants across all seasons – but also seeking to educate and inspire. The installation seeks to demonstrate the effects of climate change, whilst also celebrating the beauty of plants and humans’ adaptability, ingenuity and ability to overcome problems and create safe and stable growing environments for plants from all over the world. 

By 2050 scientists predict that air quality levels could be five times worse, crop yields could decrease by 30% and temperatures could be rising towards a 4°C increase globally by the end of the century. We have already experienced over 1°C temperature increase since pre-industrial times and anything over 2°C could have catastrophic consequences for people and the natural world. It is critical we collectively take urgent action today to avoid further heating of the earth. 

Supported by Lendlease, IQL and London Continental Railways (LCR) with further support from Arup (engineering), Tom Massey (horticulture design), Hortus Loci (plant nursery partner), Cake Industries (fabricator), and Amorim (material). 

Source: London Design Festival

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