The Alpine House
The first Alpine House at Kew was built in 1887
at the north end of the Herbaceous Ground, was a conventional timber greenhouse
structure with a double pitched roof and a simple central aisle between raised
beds, with top and side ventilation and small paned glazing. It was enlarged in
1891 and again in 1938.
The second Alpine House was constructed when the
first was demolished and rebuilt to a longer and wider plan in 1939.
third and current Alpine House was built on the site of the former Quarantine
House. It was begun in 1976, completed in 1978 and officially opened to the public
in 1981. Its then revolutionary high-tech construction and systems were designed
to control temperature, moisture and 'photoperiod' light levels and air flow to
replicate alpine habitats accurately. There is even a refrigerated bench in the
centre to aid the cultivation of plants from arctic and equatorial mountain conditions.
The size of the house is in keeping with the smallness of the plants and
the pyramid shape reflects mountain landscapes. The moat surrounding the house
not only collects rainwater to feed the pond inside, but also moisturises and
cools the air drawn into the house through special louvres, so helping to create
a truly alpine atmosphere
Although it is the smallest of Kew's glasshouses,
this, the most recent in a long tradition of fine Alpine houses in the Gardens,
offers a very wide range of different species of plants, with displays generally
changing twice a week.
Back to: North
On to: Jodrell