Davies Alpine House 

Venture into high-altitude territory and experience the cool, dry and windy conditions that allow alpine plants to flourish. 

Davies Alpine House at Kew

Alpines are some of the world’s most resilient plants – able to grow above the altitude at which trees can survive.  

These plants have adapted to endure the severe conditions of the Earth’s poles or mountaintops, from the Arctic to the Alps or the Andes.   

In the wild, alpines spend the winter dormant, dry and protected from extreme temperatures by a blanket of snow. Melting snow in spring provides moisture and exposes the plants to light. The short growing season means plants must flower and set seed quickly. They require plenty of light and cool, constantly moving air.  

The flowers you’ll find in this glasshouse are nurtured in our Alpine Nursery and only displayed in the Alpine House when they come into bloom. The glasshouse is home to a wide range of bright purple campanulas, bold pink dianthus, small ferns, fragrant lavenders, thymes, tulips and verbascums, along with other unique species. 

Creating the Alpine House  

The Davies Alpine House was designed to recreate the dry, cool, windy conditions alpines need to thrive, without using energy-intensive air conditioning and wind pumps.  

Conceived as two back-to-back arches, the structure creates a stack effect that draws warm air out of the building. Below ground, air is cooled in a concrete labyrinth and recirculated around the perimeter, while the low-iron glass exterior allows 90% of light to pass through.  

The exterior of the Davies Alpine House at Kew

Formally opened in 2006, the Davies Alpine House is a RIBA award-winning structure that combines traditional practice with the latest technology – a glasshouse for the 21st century. 

Visiting the Davies Alpine House 

  • Our glasshouses are open until one hour before the Gardens close.  Please see our opening times for full details. 
  • We may occasionally need to close attractions for maintenance or visitor safety: check for planned closures and visitor notices before you visit. 

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