Glass House / Max Núñez
- Area :
Text description provided by the architects. The greenhouse contains a small captive forest. Through various mechanical systems, it generates an artificial environment conditioned to recreate a fragment of rainforest at a different latitude. Its inhabitants are a variety of plants, ferns, palms, orchids, mosses, small trees and a few insects that have found their new home in this controlled atmosphere.
Here, humans are sporadic visitors. Apart from a few intrusions by the gardener or the owner, it is most often a space empty of people; it is a house for plants.
The daily routine of these species is adjusted to their circadian rhythm, the movement of the sun and its impact on the temperature and humidity of the environment, as this translates into a need for water and ventilation. These subtle atmospheric variables were incorporated into the design, trying to tie this little piece of nature tightly to the supporting structure and mechanical conditioning systems.
The roof is made up of two glass brick vaults. The concave space under the arches allows sufficient interior height for the growth of small trees. In turn, the structural glass shell forms a sky with a continuous surface that avoids the projection of shadows. The glass block used has the particularity that its inner face is striated, which prevents the direct passage of the sun’s rays, reducing the direct radiation on the leaves. The only interruptions on the surface of the vaults are the structural expansions which allow them to resist a possible seismic movement. These grooves are used to pass a system of small pipes through which micro-sprinklers humidify the environment at the zenith when the humidity drops.
At the ends of each vault, facing north-south, are projecting doors that open mechanically to produce cross ventilation when the interior temperature exceeds 24 degrees. The central support of the two vaults allows the water from the sprinklers to rise through one column and through the other the electrical wiring that supplies the opening of the ventilation windows. Below, around the plants, a 1m high plinth clad in expanded metal reveals the heating system ducts that run around the perimeter, needed to heat the room when temperatures drop below 14 degrees. These various mechanisms, added to a standard automated irrigation system, are controlled simultaneously throughout the year by a digital controller, a common technology in greenhouses in the agricultural industry. For the four glazed facades that surround the square plan of the building, extra clear glass has been used, making it more translucent to the human eye, in this way the plants are more visible from the outside, transforming the building into a large showcase that exposes their inhabitants.