The Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam greenhouse to become completely climate neutral

The eye-catching Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus greenhouse is being renovated to become completely sustainable, heated without gas – providing an inspiring example to all.

Tri-climate greenhouse in the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens
credit: ZJA Architects

Designed in the 1990’s by the architectural studio ZJA, the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus is a striking, contemporary structure, made of steel and glass. Three decades later, the so called, Tri-Climate Greenhouse is to undergo major renovation to include insulating roofs and facades, reuse of rainwater and waste water, and smart and energy-efficient climate systems. The greenhouse is to become the country’s first visibly sustainable, completely climate-neutral public greenhouse, offering an improved experience, from both outside and inside, while the iconic silhouette is retained. Crucially, as is its purpose, the redesign also means that the plants will benefit optimally from the orientation of the building.

The new design by ZJA includes a cunning insulating skin for the roof, which is made of lightweight, transparent ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) foil air cushions. The insulating ETFE ensures lower heat requirement in the winter and improved heat retention in summer. Being transparent, the air cushions allow for sunlight to penetrate in turn, providing addition heat.

The characteristic primary load-bearing structure with tension rods and tie rods will be retained, and the lightweight EFTE air cushions will be respectfully incorporated into the existing structure and geometry. The single glazing will be replaced with insulated double glazing.

Heated by means of underground waste heat from the H’ART (Hermitage Amsterdam) Museum through a 600-meter-long connection to the botanical garden’s greenhouse. Combined with the new highly insulating building envelope, the Tri-Climate greenhouse can now completely eliminate its reliance on gas. With all these sustainable measures, the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam greenhouse will become the first gas-free public greenhouse in the Netherlands.

Smart climate system, to monitor temperature, humidity, air speed, CO2, light intensity and irrigation to ensure optimal conditions. Rainwater is collected and stored in a central water storage for plant irrigation. All these features are concealed to ensure as clear a view throughout the greenhouse.

The assembly of the new sustainable roof is planned to start in June 2024 and it is expected that the renewed, sustainable greenhouse will reopen its doors in June 2025 – in time for the 750th anniversary of Amsterdam. The botanical garden will remain open to the public during the construction.