Tropicalia, the world’s largest tropical greenhouse built under a single dome, is expected to be completed by 2021 in northern France.
The Coldefy & Associés Architectes Urbanistes firm, in partnership with Dalkia, a subsidiary of EDF, was selected to design this 20,000 m² greenhouse, intended to be a “bubble of harmony” and, at 28°C, perfectly integrated into the local environment.
Tropicalia will be capped with a “double-dome” made from a metallic structure carrying ETFE strips measuring 60m in length and 4m in width. A synthetic mineral membrane made into pressurised “cushions” will act as the external layer of the dome, creating a first layer of thermal insulation that will let through the full light spectrum. A third layer of ETFE will be deployed under the load-bearing structure for the purpose of accumulating heat produced by the greenhouse effect. “Our main aim for the Tropicalia project is to optimise the dome’s energy efficiency while minimising its impact on the external environment”, explained Denis Bobillier, Technical Director of Major Projects at Dalkia. “We designed a double-dome that produces its own energy which is able to maintain a tropical atmosphere regardless of the climate outside, as one of the major challenges for the greenhouse’s performance is its heating system.”
The environmental conditions created by the dome will create an exceptional oasis for tropical flora and fauna. A footpath, just over a kilometre in length, will enable visitors to discover rich and diverse fauna and flora: exotic flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, Amazonian fish, tortoises and turtles, caimans, water gardens, waterfalls, pools and basins.
Tropicalia, located in Rang-du-Filiers, a small village in the Pas-de-Calais, will also house a scientific space dedicated to national and international collaboration, including a conference room, laboratory and clinic.
Works are scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2019, and the greenhouse is slated to open to the public in 2021. The programme is expected to attract 500,000 visitors per year.