Central to the Biodiversity Garden is a large steel dome designed by De Villiers Sheard. Domes are lovely structures to look at and to be under - whether it's a Renaissance dome or a Khoikhoi matjieshuis - and considering the precedent, I felt it would make the perfect focal point to the garden.
Over time climbers will grow up the mesh and completely cover the dome, so that it becomes a shady arbor inside. Low walls provide informal seating, and there are framed views onto the surrounding Demonstration gardens and the lake beyond.
Domes are no longer common in modern architecture, so I received some raised eyebrows at the suggestion. I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to the engineers Garry Sheard and Dave Stonestreet for rising to the challenge and helping us realise this part of the design.
The dome is 9 meters in diameter with 9 ribs, each of 76mm galvanised steel pipe. This is surprisingly little steel to span such a large area.
I love the geometry and the apparent simplicity of the structure.
Mesh panels cover the dome to provide support for climbers.
A large poster provides a visual summary of the Biodiversity Garden - introducing the main themes and where the displays can be found. A mosaic lies like a decorative carpet on the floor and shadow patterns add a dynamic element.
It is indeed a lovely space to hang out.