A princely pleasure garden with a spectacular greenhouse

Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens

Close-up of the iron structure in the former winter garden at the Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Sandra Eberle
BETWEEN TRADITION AND MODERNITY

HISTORY OF DESIGN

Romantic and picturesque was the order of the day in the 19th century, often preferring to draw on the architecture and ornamentation of centuries past, even when using a modern material like cast iron.

Aerial image of the Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

Green landscaped garden for passing pleasant hours.

THE FIRST BOTANICAL GARDENS

When Friedrich Weinbrenner began designing the new botanical gardens in 1806, work was already underway redesigning the remaining palace gardens, in the style of English landscape gardens. Unlike the Baroque style, this kind of park was supposed to have a "natural" effect and be pleasing to the eye the way a landscape painting would be, with individual scenic attractions, for example, small buildings or waterfalls.

Gatehouse and water lily pond at the Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Nature and architecture form a picturesque artistic synthesis.

RECREATED BY HÜBSCH

Heinrich Hübsch was still applying this romantic tradition in the 1850s. In redesigning the botanical gardens, he wanted to unite nature and architecture in a picturesque setting. After 1863, the year Hübsch died, the wooden conservatory structures were replaced by cast iron, as had been used in English conservatories since the mid 19th century.

Caryatids used in the pergola at the Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Female figures made of modern cast iron.

MODERN MATERIAL, TRADITIONAL DESIGN

The cast iron style used in the winter garden, of which only the skeleton remains today, references the structure and ornamentation of a Greek temple, despite the modern material used. And not just the ornamentation is of classical origin. The caryatids–female figures who appear to carry the roof on their heads–were used as early as Greek antiquity. Cast-iron columns and decorative elements can also be found in abundance at smaller train stations of the period and have been preserved at several locations around Karlsruhe.

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