Q. Possible to create a botanical garden in apartment design?

As an architecture student I am considering the possibility of integrating a botanical garden into an apartment building development. Would it be possible/what are the complications of such an endeavor? More specifically it would be potentially located in a central courtyard/atrium space of an enclosed building .
Thank you!


What an interesting idea! If your botanical display will be located in an interior space for the enjoyment of residents, you are probably contemplating creating a conservatory or glasshouse environment rather than a full botanical garden. But maybe you are thinking of something more far reaching.

A botanical garden is created for the purpose of scientific research and involves scientific monitoring of the collection,educational programs and conservation, as well as plant display. You can get more information on the specifics of botanical gardens from organizations such as Botanical Gardens Conservation International.

A public garden can be a botanical garden but also includes other categories of display gardens offering educational resources and open to the public. You can find more about that category at The American Public Garden Association

As a conceptual project you may want to contemplate an architectural design with all the elements necessary to be considered a botanical garden, or a public garden, but for either of those, or simply a specimen garden for the use of tenants, the most difficult element to design could be the growing environment. You have probably seen what a botanical garden glasshouse looks like. Modern glasshouses frequently have multiple growing zones that simulate the native environment of the specimen plants on display. Through control of temperature, humidity, sunlight and other factors, you create growing conditions favorable to a group of plants that grow in the zones you are mimicking. That is the kind of structure you would need to contain in your building if you want to have something more than a typical atrium with six sorts of plants that can grow in shady conditions.

There will be a lot of water resources necessary to mist and irrigate plants, moving glass louvers to let air in and regulate temperature and humidity and large areas of glass in close proximity to the plants to allow the necessary light to get to them. In an interior courtyard, you would have to choose your plants very carefully to survive without the 365° sun availability of most greenhouses.

The difficulties in maintaining a primarily glass structure is not inconsiderable and the introduction of water, humidity and moving parts will undoubtedly affect the rest of the building's maintenance and its tenants. There are books available to tell you all about glasshouse design and management and I suggest that you investigate those to see if you can imagine a working integration of the function of a glasshouse and that of an apartment building. You can search for books on the topic on our Mertz Library homepage

Good luck with this project and let us know if we can be of further help.

Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information

  • Last Updated Apr 02, 2018
  • Views 9
  • Answered By Anita Finkle

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