Tropical Ravine, Belfast Botanic GardensBelfast
Designed by Hall Black Douglas Architects for Belfast City Council, Topglass carried out several glass works on this project including bespoke glass facades, doors and balustrading.
Part of the Botanic Gardens, Belfast, the Tropical Ravine houses a collection of tropical plants including some very rare tropical species and some of the oldest plants in the world. The structure itself is a Victorian Listed Building dating back to the 1880s, with some of the plants themselves also holding listed status. The renovation included full replacement and reconstruction of all glass elements with an aim of protecting and being sympathetic towards the original Victorian design, preserving or restoring its historic features, while utilising modern installation techniques and materials. Glass is used as a key material across the building shell and throughout the interior including a custom entrance lobby and balustrading. While design and performance figures were critical, particular care was also taken on overall aesthetics to ensure maximum enjoyment for the building’s end use. Minimal framing provides bright open aspects and maximum viewing opportunities. Topglass worked closely with the design, project and consultancy team to ensure the best working practices were applied while working in highly sensitive areas particularly where some plants remained in situ during building works within temperate and tropical zones.
Topglass' centerpiece on this project was the external glass elevation. This bespoke installation used point or bolted fixings to construct a frameless glass system with the ability to provide maximum levels of light filtration and good daylighting properties. The single glazed façade is supported by a series of frameless glass support fins which span from the ground level up to the building eaves support steel structure. Internally glass balustrading was used at 'view points' featuring glass to glass seams and corner details and providing support for an affixed handrail.
The façade required a specialist level of design and engineering support which Topglass were able to provide. A carefully designed bespoke system was achieved using minimalist framing and glass fixings which provided the desired aesthetic and performance while crucially allowing for structural movement. The built in flexibility of the system allows for the roof of the building to deflect up and down without causing damage to the glass itself while innovative engineering made it possible to retain the ‘frameless’ aspect and stunning visual. Topglass worked closely with the design team sharing our knowledge of the required material and its properties.
Photographs - Mervyn Black Photography