4 August 2013

A last look at the Temperate House in Kew Gardens

I have said many times, and repeated it many times in this blog, that the Temperate House is my favourite part of Kew Gardens. And so it was with considerable mixed emotion that I leaned that it is closing for a considerable period for an extensive renovation. The renovation is good but waiting until 2018 to go there again is really upsetting news.

I had to mark the occasion and the day before it closed I went there and took overt forty photos which I have painfully reduced to just six for this post.

The Temperate House is in five section. There are two smaller halls either side of the large central hall and each of these is connected to the centre by an octagonal hall. This is the view looking through the south hall and the south octagon in to the central hall.

The halls had been thinned out ready for the major refurbishment which gave it a completely different look, and one I was keen to take advantage of. Previously the vegetation was so tall and thick that much of the architecture was hidden but in this state far more of the Victorian beauty was exposed,

Into the central hall with its profusion of metal structures. I hope the spiral staircases look just the same in five years time.

Half of the upper walkway had been closed for some time, presumably for safety reasons, and so I was relieved that the other half was still open. The walkway always gave the best views of both the plants and the architecture.

This is what greenhouses should look like, from the sturdy pillars supporting the raised walkway to the curved roof supports.

One change that I suspect that they will make is to update the mechanical parts of the greenhouse, replacing rusted wheels and levers with smooth devices controlled by automatic sensors to open and close the windows. That could mean some changes to the detailed design of the roof area - I'll wait and see.

The final picture shows just how empty the Temperate House was on its last day with the large tracts of exposed earth laying testament to absent plants. The plants that were allowed to stay were well away from the structure making it uniquely visible.

The Temperate House will never look like this again and I'll have to wait five years to find out what it will look like after the refresh.

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