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See What Goes into Building the World’s Largest Tropical Greenhouse

by Rick Anderson

With a name like Tropicalia and a wide range of exotic flora and fauna, you’d be excused for guessing that the massive bio-dome currently being designed by Coldefy & Associés is located somewhere near the equator. But as it turns out, the space-age structure will soon bring a simulated version of a warmer climate all the way up to northern France. Set to occupy 215,000 square feet, Tropicalia will be a unique, immersive oasis located in Rang-du-Fliers that feels thousands of miles away from its coastal location along the English Channel. Visitors can walk a footpath stretching for more than 3,200 feet, winding through an environment that will play host to dozens of animal, tree, and flower species.

Designed by Coldefy & Associés, a rendering shows the interiors of the tropical greenhouse.

Fitting for such a massive nature preserve, Tropicalia’s design elements will serve as a showcase for sustainable, minimalist construction. A double dome allows the space to be energy independent, trapping in air and relying on the greenhouse effect to regulate temperatures at a constant 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The absence of bearing posts and a peripheral green wall along the perimeter will ensure that visitors have excellent sight lines throughout. Partially built into a hill, the dome’s footprint is set to match the contours of its surrounding landscape so it can blend in rather than stand out.

The biodome, which will include a series of waterfalls, will stand in stark contrast to its exterior surroundings in northern France.

Part of a broader redevelopment effort in France’s Côte d’Opale region, the area around the Tropicalia greenhouse will include shops and restaurants, as well as a space dedicated exclusively to scientific study. Work is slated to begin during the first half of 2019, with a planned opening date in 2021.

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