Column-free ETFE dome containing the world’s largest tropical greenhouse.

MIPIM / AR Future Project Award 2019 – Hotels & Leisure
Architizer A+ Jury Prize: Unbuilt Sports & Recreation Project
Architizer A+ Popular Choice Prize: Unbuilt Sports & Recreation Project

Eckersley O’Callaghan is providing structural and facade engineering services for this remarkable 20,000-square-metre tropical biodome, which will be the largest of its kind in the world. Beneath the dome, a kilometre-long path winds through several different tropical landscapes, including a 25-metre waterfall, and an enormous pool stocked with fish from the Amazon river.

Uninterrupted views of the environment are provided with a structure that removes the need for any loadbearing columns, while the double-insulated ETFE roof maintains a constant temperature of 28oC. This allows a diversity of exotic fauna and flora, including butterflies, hummingbirds, flowers, turtles and caimans, to survive in a region where the highest monthly average is 18oC, and the lowest is 3oC.

The building is also bedded down in the earth, both to integrate it with the surrounding countryside, and to further insulate it. The greenhouse effect produced by the dome means the project will be an autonomous energy producer; excess heat created by the project will be recycled for use in connected buildings. 

A detailed parametric model was developed to investigate different structural systems and grid options with the architect. As we were responsible for the costing of the steelwork, detailed quantities could be exported from the model allowing a full understanding of cost from an early stage of the project.

Scripts were developed to export the geometrical data from the parametric model to the analysis software. A parallel analysis was also undertaken directly inside the parametric model to investigate global buckling of the shell structure.

Côte d’Opale, France

Dr Guérin Cédric

Coldefy et Associés Architectes Urbanistes