A crystal-clear dome arches cutted gently out of the forest as if it were growing out of the earth, like a gigantic air bubble that has always been here and belongs to the original nature. This is how the designers from the French architecture office Coldefy “Tropicalia”. Project is sheudeled for three years to close and according to the architects, this would create the largest single tropical house in the world. The built-up area got 15,000 square meters.
That is damn big and including the additional, built-up areas, Tropicalia even covers 20,000 square meters. And yet there is already a tropical house that offers even more pure tropical space: the Gondwanaland in the Leipzig Zoo. The tropical house covers 16,500 square meters and was inaugurated in 2011.
But back to France: In the middle of the Tropicalia hemisphere there should be a constant 28 degrees all year round. This is achieved through a sophisticated climate system and a deep sinking of the shell into the earth, the architects explain, without the need for extra energy. They want to take advantage of the greenhouse effect that arises so that excess heat can even be used to heat neighboring buildings.
And that in the middle of the Pas-de-Calais, which has become notorious in Germany at the latest since the film “Welcome to the Sch’tis”? The region has an annual average temperature of around 10 degrees. Even in Cologne, which is not exactly tropical, it is a good 14 degrees.
Transparent air cushions form the roof
The sun is almost unlimited, because the roof is completely transparent. It consists of an aluminum frame and air cushions, which in turn are to be made from ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE) a material that is known from similar buildings: The “Tropical Islands” amusement park in the former Cargolifter airship hangar is covered, and it was also used for the Allianz Arena of FC Bayern Munich. Last but not least, ETFE is also part of the largest comparable tourist attraction to date: The Eden Project in the southern English region of Cornwall, which is known for its comparatively mild climate. The total area coupled in here is even larger, at around 23,000 square meters, although it is spread over several buildings.
The Eden Project, built in a former alumina mine, is a tourist magnet with up to one million visitors annually. However, the system looks quite artificial: the domes look like cut football halves, and even inside you hardly have the feeling of being in a real tropical world. This is mainly due to the supporting structure, which is visible almost everywhere.
Construction without supports
The makers of the “Tropicalia”, on the other hand, promise visitors “the feeling of being separated from the rest of the world”. This should be ensured by the column-free construction and a natural, planted and high outer wall, which alone gives a view of the sky. From a distance, the complex should appear like a gentle hill that nestles into the landscape. It remains to be seen whether this will also be possible with the parking spaces for the approximately 1,500 visitors a day.
“Butterflies, exotic flowers, hummingbirds, waterfalls, aquariums, fish, turtles, caimans and more” promise the planners in a somewhat wildly coalesced list of attractions. In addition to job opportunities for scientists and a veterinary clinic, there should also be a hotel, souvenir shops and a gourmet restaurant.