Is our planet no better than a hot house for pollution? An unsettling question raised by London-based architecture practice Studio Weave’s latest project. In collaboration with developers Lendlease and LCR, the architecture studio created a large-scale greenhouse to cultivate crops that are unable to grow in the UK.
Unveiled over London Design Festival, The Hothouse project seeks to demonstrate the effects of climate change by cultivating exotic fruits and vegetables that could be grown naturally in the UK by 2050 if the current rate of climate change continues to accelerate. Scientists have recently predicted that by the end of the century our air quality levels could be five times worse, ‘crop yields could decrease by 30% and temperatures could be rising towards a 4 degrees increase globally by the end of the century.’
Found of Studio Weave, Je Ahn said ‘We hope this little hot house acts as a continual reminder of our fragile relationship with nature, while allowing us to rediscover the simple and enriching pleasure of looking after beautiful plants.’ Despite its troubling environmental message, the initiative also celebrates the beauty of nature and human adaptability through a wonderful showcase of ‘an edible jungle of exotic and unusual species’ designed by Garden Designer, Tom Massey. The greenhouse provides a controlled habitat for cultivating crops from around the world including chia seed, avocado, pomegranate, mango, sweet potato and pineapples.
Located at the International Quarter London in the heart of Stratford, The Hothouse is built in an area that was historically dominated by greenhouse facilities and was designed to be reminiscent of a Victorian glasshouse. In the 1930s, over 1,300 acres were dominated by cultivation facilities, growing exotic fruits of the time including cucumber and grapes, as well as decorative tropical flowers.
Following a year where we witnessed the positive environmental affects of a global lockdown and equally rediscovered the joys of gardening, The Hothouse emerges at an extremely poignant time. Je Ahn commented ‘Amid the strangeness of the COVID era…reduced human activity has produced what feels like a profound shift in the environment, progressing a much-needed dialogue that will hopefully translate into sustained action and change.’ The Hothouse will remain up for a year for visitors to witness the evolution of the plants over each season. A joyful project with a critical message, The Hothouse is well worth a visit.