Renovation Three Climate Greenhouse Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

The eye-catcher of the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus was designed in the early 1990s by architectural studio ZJA, as a contemporary structure in steel and glass. Three decades later, the Three Climate Greenhouse is ready for major renovation. Thanks to insulating roofs and facades, reuse of rainwater and waste water, and smart, energy-efficient climate systems, this will become the country’s first visibly sustainable, completely climate-neutral public greenhouse, offering an improved experience, from both outside and inside, while the recognizable appearance is retained. The redesign also means that the plants will benefit optimally from the orientation of the building. A future-proof place, where you can learn all there is to know about biodiversity and its relationship to the climate.

Eye-catcher made of steel and glass

The Three Climate Greenhouse of the Hortus Botanicus on the Nieuwe Herengracht has been a striking building in the centre of Amsterdam since 1993. With its ingenious combination of parts from production greenhouses in Westland and an external skeleton that gives the structure its strength via tension rods on the roof, it was a flexible and functional design that gave the famous plant collection a new home thirty years ago. A centuries-old institution, surrounded by historic buildings, gained an attractive contemporary addition, which became a popular attraction for both visitors and Amsterdam residents. But the present poses new demands. With this renovation, the Hortus intends to create a fully sustainable greenhouse that provides optimal shelter for the plant collection in a future-proof location that tells the story of biodiversity. As in 1993, ZJA has provided the architectural design.

The story of biodiversity

The climate crisis and the associated loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest threats of our time. The Hortus tells this story from the point of view of the plants. The renovated greenhouse is intended to show the effects of the climate on biodiversity, and the effects of biodiversity loss on life on earth. 

With a completely sustainable greenhouse, heated without gas, which teaches us about the importance of plants on earth, the Hortus wants to provide an inspiring example to all Amsterdam residents and to suggest where the entire city needs to go. The aim is for people to understand how important greenery is for life on earth and to act accordingly.

Renewal and sustainability greenhouse Hortus

The new design by ZJA prominently showcases sustainable innovation while preserving the iconic silhouette of the greenhouse. The roof will feature an insulating skin made of transparent ETFE foil air cushions, aligning perfectly with the Hortus's ambition for a completely sustainable, gas-free heated greenhouse. The characteristic primary load-bearing structure with tension rods and tie rods will be retained, and lightweight air cushions will be integrated with respect for the existing structure and geometry. Single glazing will be replaced with insulated double glazing. The distinctive rhythm and refinement of the existing facade with white lines will also be maintained. 

This ensures that the greenhouse's appearance in terms of shape, color, size, and scale remains recognizable, as it has become well-known to many Amsterdam residents and visitors. The original design's values and principles, focusing on light and elegance for optimal daylight penetration, will be preserved. For years, the H'ART Museum has been providing underground waste heat to the Tri-Climate Greenhouse through a 600-meter-long connection. When combined with the highly insulating building envelope, the greenhouse can now completely eliminate its reliance on gas. With all these sustainable measures, the Tri-Climate Greenhouse will become the first gas-free public greenhouse in the Netherlands.

Smart climate system and a beautiful view

A smart climate system that monitors temperature, humidity, air speed, CO2 content, light intensity and irrigation makes it possible to maintain optimal conditions. Rainwater is collected and stored in a central water storage and used to irrigate the plants. The required installations are all concealed as much as possible to ensure as much of a clear view as possible in the greenhouse. The characteristic steel walkway will pass over a new structure, which functions as a waterfall and centralizes and largely conceals the technical installations. 

The plants will benefit optimally from the orientation of the building through the redesign. In addition to a completely renovated tropical greenhouse section, the new Cape space and the desert section, there will also be additional exhibition space to explain the story of biodiversity and the relationship with climate on a global scale. From the new vantage point in the world room in the Cape greenhouse you have a beautiful view of the three climates. With all sustainable adjustments, the preservation of the characteristic elements and an optimal living environment for the plant collection, the renovated Three-Climate Greenhouse of the Hortus will be ready for the future.

Client: Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Architect: ZJA
Landscape design: BOOM Landscape
Interior design: Designwolf
Structural engineer: ABT
Main contractor: AKOR

Project management: Infinitus Solutions, C & R Hospitality Services
Steel Construction: Vic Obdam Steel Construction
Roof: Buitink Technology
Facade: Kingspan
Light + Air Installer: Lek/Habo
Steel Construction: Vic Obdam
Greenhouse furnishings: Copijn
Year: 2019-2025




An integrated vision and measurable outcome

Space on Earth is extremely valuable and finite. Therefore, we are placing increasingly more intensive and complex demands on its use. In…

Read more

Nederlands Paviljoen Wereldtentoonstelling Osaka

Not a building but a place In the summer of 2025 the World Expo will take place on an artificial island off the coast of the Japanese city…

Read more

Last chance to visit the current Three Climate Greenhouse

The coming days you can still take a final stroll through the familiar old Three Climate Greenhouse at the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. On…

Read more

Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam

Saving the old botanical garden

The glasshouse for the Amsterdam botanical garden, dating from 1993, is one of the earliest significant projects the architectural studio…

Read more