Eden and the glasshouse Tradition – Andrew Whalley

(notes taken from the architecture of eden)

pg 104 – Our civilization is inexorably entwined with developments in plant exploitation. The simultaneous blooming of plant science and the industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century create a catalyst for a new type of architecture – the glasshouse

pg 105 – Enthusiasm for nurturing these new specimens grew, and in 1654 Sir Hugh Platt published his thoughts on forcing and greenhouse design entitle The Garden Of Eden. 

n.q The first Green house was Developed by George Clifford, and Anglo-dutch financier and director of the dutch east India company, which transported many exotic plants back to northern Europe.

A New Form of Design

pg 106 – It was Thomas Knight, elected as head of the London Horticultural Society in 1811, who provoked the next development in glass house design. He set out an irresistible challenge in his inaugural speech :

Not a single building of this kind has yet been erected in which the greatest possible quantity of space has been obtained and of light and heat admitted – proportionate to the capital expended – Thomas Knight. 



Thomas Knight


Two Scots men who responded to knights speech would have a formidable influence on glass house design. They were Sir George Mackenzie and John Claudius London

Sir George Mackenzie

Sir George Mackenzie




pg 107 – Loudon developed his ideas in his book “Remarks on Hothouses.”  … invention of the ridge and furrow glazing. He argued that a glass building with such a pleated envelope ensured that the sun’s rays would be at right angles to the glass surface at sunset and sunrise thus catching the two meridians . Loudon went on to develop this proposal into a complete environmental system. Condensation would be caught and drained through the iron glazing bars. Canvas blinds were to provide protection form the sun and provide insulation. Glass louvres could be pulled open by ropes for ventilation

Few of Loudons constructed greenhouse survived.One exception, at Bicton in Devon, was possibly built after Loudon’s death, but was a faithful execution of his ideas by W. & D Bailey. Its elegant, filigree form is like the delicate structure of a leaf.


“It may be beautiful without exhibiting any of the orders of Grecian or of Gothic design … may not therefor glass roofs be rendered expressive of ideas of a higher and more appropriate kind, than those which are suggest by mere sheds or a glazed arcade.”






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