Author: Stella Sintou
Tutors: Ben Cowd, Sara Shafiei
De Montfort University
The project is called Leicester’s Pleasure Gardens. The site lies in the main commercial part of Leicester. The centre of Leicester is densely built-up, and there is therefore little space for green spaces. To tackle the problem, I proposed outdoor and indoor gardens along with performance space and shops. I developed a deep interest in arcades of the 20th century because they offered fantasy, movement, and color.
To start with, the world arcade comes from Latin arcus which means arch. The Winter Gardens is a succession of arches. The arches demonstrate the Romanticism of the past but the simple design responds to the contemporary architecture. Glass covered roof keep dirt and bad weather away. Also, transparency allows space and light through, and seems to offer the kind of freedom that people want.
The important part of the project is the roof structure. The ceiling consists of three different parts, the elliptical and two curved glass roofs. The two curved roofs add a dramatic feature to the design. The second stands underneath the first creating two different directions. Plants are placed in accordance to the roof height.
The core of the project is the Winter Gardens. The building consists of two floors. Winter Gardens is a glasshouse that has a variety of desert plants, tropical plants, and water lilies. Attention has been given to performance space. The amphitheater has a capacity of 150 seats. The idea was to create a flexible roof that opens during summer months and thus, the visitor will have the chance to feel the sun and smell the flowers.
Finally, small private gardens are created for the surrounding context. Trees and flowers were carefully chosen based on season, hue and sun shading. Vegetation is used to provide privacy and block unwanted views, especially those looking at the glass façade of the Winter Gardens. Each garden provides spot to relax and calm.
In terms of materials, Winter Garden is a steel frame construction covered up with timber cladding. The timber cladding called larch. Larch wood has a warm hue, creating a natural feel to the garden. Furthermore, it is a very durable timber and little or no maintenance is required, this reduces the use of chemicals that could harm the plants.