Location: Central London
Client: Royal Parks
Sector: Leisure and Sports
The proposed new conservatory and public gardens on the former nursery grounds are an initiative of the Royal Parks Agency in conjunction with the Prince of Wales’ Royal Parks Tree Appeal to restore the lost focus in Queen Mary’s Gardens, Regent’s Park.
The gardens were originally laid out to plans devised in 1840 by Robert Marnock and Decimus Burton. The focus of the Gardens was a beautiful conservatory designed by Decimus Burton, the architect of the Palm House at Kew Gardens. In the early 1930’s, Burton’s conservatory was demolished and the focus of the gardens was lost.
Without calling on public funds, the proposed conservatory will replace Decimus Burton’s conservatory and thus restore the focal point in the gardens. It will enable visitors to enjoy a unique indoor garden in Central London and enhance the historic landscape of Regent’s Park, for the benefit of future generations.
The new conservatory, like its predecessor, will be a very significant feature providing a unique opportunity to reinforce Regent’s Park’s spirit of place and identity as a model city park of international significance.
It will reflect and continue the great tradition of conservatories built to extend horticultural possibilities, as noticeable at the Palm House at Kew Gardens or Bicton Garden Palm House in Devon. These brought horticulture into the realms of science, and the proposed conservatory will marshal state-of-the-art sustainable technology. The conservatory will be designed with a lightness of spirit as well as material.
The crescent shaped south-facing wall reflects the entrance gates and Nash Terraces and will rise from the ground at the front of the site to its highest point at the rear of the site, and be of sufficient size to house all essential services. It is designed to capture the warmth of the sun throughout the day.
The floating glass roof floats above the crescent wall and will be constructed of many small pieces of glass to emphasise its visual delicacy. It will be supported by a fine spider’s web network of stainless steel cables. This in turn will form a lower crescent-shaped wall of suspended glass at the front of the building to create the entrance.
Visitors will enter the conservatory in the centre via a stone bridge across a lily pool that will extend to the full width of the building.