Revealing a vision for the best practice of botanic gardens
New detail is being revealed on the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s radical £70m initiative to uphold its status as a world-leading centre for plant sciences, horticulture and conservation. Arguably the most ambitious undertaking of the Garden’s 349-year history, the Edinburgh Biomes initiative will protect the future of its unique living plant collection and create unrivalled public outreach opportunities.
With a major planning application submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council on March 1, artist’s impressions reveal the main public hub of the Biomes. A new glasshouse, costing around £7.5m, will provide the entrance point to a considerably rejuvenated Glasshouse Experience, taking visitors through the refurbished A-Listed modernist Front Range and Victorian Temperate and Tropical Palm Houses.
Designed initially to act as a temporary home for the plants being decanted from the Garden’s public and research houses during the seven-year project, the new glasshouse will ultimately create an unrivalled welcome to the world of plants, linking with behind-the-scenes facilities such as the Herbarium, Library and Archives.
In revitalising RBGE’s research, horticulture, education and infrastructure facilities, Edinburgh Biomes will deliver a dynamic new dimension to the institute’s ongoing remit to explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future: protecting its unique and priceless Living Collection of 166,000 plants over 13,300 species. Essentially, it will also provide state-of-the art facilities for its scientists, horticulturists and educators who work in more than 35 countries around the world.
Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said: “At a time when the work of botanic gardens has never been more important, Edinburgh Biomes has the vision and potential to attract, excite and engage people of all nationalities and walks of life. It is potentially the most significant project in the Garden’s history and can firmly consolidate our ranking as one of the top four Botanical Gardens in the world. At its centre, this magnificent new glasshouse has the stature to become our iconic building of the 21st century.”
The proposed first phase of the Edinburgh Biomes involves the creation of a new, efficient and sustainable energy centre and state-of-the-art plant health suite - at the Nursery to the north of the main site - to replace existing, aging, facilities. The new plant health suite will provide a safe bio-secure propagation environment. The new energy centre will introduce ground source heat pumps which, coupled with new low heat loss pipework will reduce the carbon footprint of the Glasshouses by 12 per cent.
Later, members of the public will be engaged in various phases of a staged build to allow for the decanting and relocation of seasonally sensitive plants over a period of around seven years.
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