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Biosphere Pavillion

Barkow Leibinger Architects

The Potsdam Biosphere project with its Naturerlebniswelt (Nature Exploration World) offers a unique off-work experience where plants are the central focus of attention.
Plants dominate our everyday life in various ways. Without them, there would be no life on earth. Everyday we use plants that grow in distant continents.
With this “Noah's Ark for Plants”, the architects of the Biosphere recount the fascinating history of plants and their significance for human beings. A series of “scenes” or environments affording different levels of participation involve the visitor actively and emotionally in the story of the development of the plants as we know them today.
A visit to the Biosphere is an informative, educational and entertaining journey through plant development in time and space, giving insights into the Earth’s deeper strata, the marine underworld, and the green roof of our tropical rainforests.
Biosphere is an “edutainment-exploration” model that raises environmental awareness and brings home the pressing need to protect plant life to ensure the survival of mankind.
The whole project started when the Client called a competition to build a flower pavilion that could subsequently be turned into a biosphere.
The site is in Potsdam near Sanssouci, the palace of Frederick the Great. Historically Potsdam has long been home to a collection of exotic gardens and architectures, with a Dutch quarter, a Russian colony of log houses, Schinkel’s Italian villas, the Chinese Tea House and Lenné’s picturesque and baroque gardens.
Potsdam was the seat of Prussian military power. Bornstedter Fields, the site of the Biosphere, was a parade ground for the Prussian military and later used by the Nazis for army exercises. After the war, the Soviets occupied the site and criss-crossed it with a series of earthen berms, or banks, to enclose and protect their barracks. This raw, defensive landscape was the formal conceptual basis for the...

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