Kew’s biggest ever restoration project is reaching its final stages, after a five-year closure of the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse.
A lengthy and complex construction project, which has seen one of Kew’s, and indeed London’s, most iconic buildings closed to the public since 2013, is coming to an end.
As these works progress, a brand new Temperate House, is slowly emerging from its encasement. The new Temperate House will be a sanctuary for some of the rarest and most threatened plants from temperate regions across the globe.
The restoration was made possible with support of over £15m from the National Lottery.
Originally designed by world-famous architect Decimus Burton, heritage architects Donald Insall have updated and modernised key features to enable it to function as a contemporary working space.
Over 69,000 individual elements were removed from the building and cleaned, repaired or replaced. This included the replacement of a staggering 15,000 panes of glass, and the restoration of 116 urns which had to be carefully lifted off the building by crane.
Twice as big as Kew’s Palm House, the Temperate House was encased within a tent-like structure, large enough to cover three Boeing 747s, in order to carry out the work.
The final phase will see a series of water features installed throughout the building, the pathways completed and the cleaning of the windows that make up the 4,880 square-metre structure.
Andrew Williams, director of estates and capital development at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: “Five years ago, we erected hoardings around one of the world’s most important buildings, which was in a state of disrepair. I am extremely proud to now be within touching distance of the opening date on 5 May.
“Thanks to a fantastic team and some incredible partners, including National Lottery players, we have not merely restored the Temperate House to its former glory, but have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure it has been done to the highest possible standards befitting a building that both contains our heritage and embodies our future, enabling us to teach generations to come about the importance of plants to life.”