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Meet The Calyx, The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s New Horticultural Display Centre

See how The Calyx, The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s New Horticultural Display Center, designed by PTW Architects, has blossomed into a world-class attraction, landing a 2017 Good Design Award.

Agile, Horticultural, Award, PTW Architects, Sydney

Since its June 2016 opening, The Calyx at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has blossomed into a world-class attraction and has recently been awarded the Architecture Prize in the Urban Design and Public Spaces category at the 2017 Good Design Awards, one of Australia’s oldest and most respected design awards. The remarkable venue, a cohesive mix of indoor and outdoor areas, with rotating exhibitions, was built around the site of the Arc Glasshouse, in the southwest corner of the garden, swapping out the Topical Centre pyramid and foyer with intelligent, sensitive architecture.

Noted as a jewel of the Garden, the Calyx offers an adaptive and sustainable venue fit for all ages to enjoy and supports an assortment of uses in response to the Garden’s vision for Science, Research and Education. Lead Architect Troy Uleman at PTW Architects says, “This innovation is achieved through a series of connected flexible spaces and services that can balance human comfort with the environments needed to sustain the horticultural exhibits.”


Respecting the form and geometry of the existing 1988 Arc Greenhouse (designed by Ancher Mortlock and Woolley, and built by Reed Constructions), it was important for it not to be visually excessive. “It is aimed to help close the southern vista of the Lower Palace Garden with a simple and elegant structure; that one would expect to find in a garden,” says Uleman.


Driven by a deep desire for authenticity, he notes, “The design is an inspired setting for imaginative horticultural displays in the beautiful landscape setting that is the Royal Botanic Gardens.” The multi-use building contains the largest changeable interior greenwall anywhere in the entire Southern hemisphere. “The crisp, white, radial geometry of steel allows the new works to contrast alongside the existing Arc Glasshouse, extending the available exhibition space,” says Uleman and that it “produces serene indoor and outdoor spaces with a greenwall, garden beds, arbour frames and a language appropriate for its garden setting.”

In order to design and coordinate a glazed building system combining operable and fixes elements and provide visual permeability and performance elements to suit complex interfaces in both new and refurbished zones, PTW collaborated with specialist façade engineers, sub-contractors and the client group. Denise Ora, Director Strategy & Projects for Botanic Gardens says, “It is rewarding to see The Calyx recognised for its unique design and its contribution to the Garden’s public space and offerings.”


Photography | John Gollings
Project | The Calyx at The Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney
Client | NSW Government, Department of Planning & Environment
Architecture & Design | PTW Architects
Project Directors | Troy Uleman, Neil Hill
Project Architects | Glenn Harper, Sara Best, Rod Brown
Architectural Assistants | John Shipp, Rebecca Qin
Completed | 2017

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