Woolbeding Gardens Glasshouse — Jewel of Glass
Text: Anja Klaffenbach

The Woolbeding Gardens Glasshouse when open

Jewel of Glass

It is quite literally an architectural jewel that crowns the Woolbeding Gardens in Sussex: When the diamond-shaped greenhouse opens like a gigantic bud, the Silk Road Garden of the venerable National Trust estate blooms with breathtakingly dramatic beauty.

Motion dynamics and precision as a challenge

The delicate glass architecture by Heatherwick Studio is a kinetic artwork, culminating in ten tapering roof segments, each measuring 15 metres in length: On warm days these slender petals of glass and steel open with majestic elegance. Through the transformation from a jewel-like bud to an enormous glass crown, the subtropical plants inside can enjoy the fresh summer air. By employing a RAICO THERM+ S-l steel facade, the engineers at Eckersley O’Callaghan Ltd, in collaboration with the manufacturer Bellapart – responsible for detailed planning and construction – addressed the intricate technical requirements of this dynamic opening process

RAICO THERM+ S-l – perfect for high loads and optimal thermal insulation

The challenge of maintaining the functionality of the cladding, sealing membrane and glazing retention system throughout the entire movement process was effectively addressed using the flexible RAICO THERM+ S-l steel system for facades and glass roofs. The glass bearings were precisely matched to the expansive movement and immense glass loads of the giant petals. For this purpose, the standard system THERMS-l was complemented with custom-made components. As the facade tilts in completely opposite directions from the closed state to full opening, the RAICO system provided the opportunity to secure the glass on the exterior using a mechanical solution. The required average thermal transmittance coefficient of 2.0 W/m2K was effortlessly achieved, thanks to the use of RAICO insulation blocks.

Client: The Woolbeding Charity
Façade construction: Bellapart Group (
Mullion-transom façade, glazing: RAICO Bautechnik GmbH (
Architecture: Heatherwick Studio (
Photos: Raquel Diniz/Heatherwick Studio


The Woolbeding Gardens Glasshouse when closed
The Woolbeding Gardens Glasshouse when closed