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Palm House at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Refurbishment and decarbonisation of Kew’s iconic Palm House to create a net zero carbon glasshouse

The glass house conservatory with a lake in the foreground and a blue sky with light cloud coverage


London, United Kingdom


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Donald Insall Architects

The Palm House project provides a full net zero carbon refurbishment of the Grade I listed Palm House and Grade II listed Waterlily House, both of which sit within a UNESCO World Heritage site. The project will support Kew’s Sustainability Strategy and their desire to become Climate Positive by 2030.

We have developed low energy solutions for heating, electrical and water systems to serve the glasshouses sustainably. These provide the foundations for networks which can be rolled out across the site to further decarbonise Kew’s estate. At the same time, we have carried out an in-depth assessment of glasshouse performance to create an appropriate benchmark and set challenging design targets for the buildings.

Robin Pritchett, Associate Director

Key fact

It will take 2 years to carefully move the plants to their temporary home before restoration work can commence.


Key fact

Ever noticed that the Palm House looks like the upturned hull of a ship? That’s because the architects borrowed techniques from the ship building industry as no one had ever built a glasshouse of this size before.


Key fact

The Glasshouse features the oldest potted plant in the world: the Encephalartos altensteinii, installed in 1775


Head and sholders in Robin standing in the London office

Robin Pritchett

Associate Director, Head of Building Performance UK

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Cundall have worked closely with the client and wider design team to create a bespoke glasshouse design which is respectful of the building’s heritage, incorporates the latest low-carbon technologies and provides appropriate conditions for Kew’s irreplaceable collection of plants. The project will provide world-leading buildings that will act as exemplars for glasshouse refurbishments in a heritage setting.