Construction has officially commenced on the new National Herbarium of NSW, designed by Architectus in collaboration with architect Richard Leplastrier and landscape architect Craig Burton.

The NSW government is funding the construction of the new Herbarium with a $60 million package as part of the Western Sydney City Deal to safeguard the collection of over 1.4 million botanical specimens.

The new Herbarium, located at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan in Western Sydney, will be a world-class botanic science facility designed to house one of the most significant and important collections of botanical specimens in Australia, vital to informing decisions regarding the conservation and management of the natural environment.

The building design is inspired by the seed pod of NSW’s floral emblem the Waratah, with ecologically sensitive and energy saving features at its core. The architecture will support precise environmental conditions to protect the botanical specimens from degradation and insect infestation, in addition to creating an engaging space for the public and workers.

Architectus principal Luke Johnson says: “It’s a privilege to work with the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust on this environmentally significant project. Plants are central to our planet’s habitability and sustainability, and the research and visitor interaction with the new Herbarium’s extensive plant collection will facilitate positive environmental and societal outcomes for generations to come.”

Six protective vaults made of thermal mass materials will shield the vast collection of botanical specimens from any extreme temperature events, such as bushfires. Like Waratah pods, the vaults contain several layers of protection. This includes a sterile internal box and thick wall constructed from rammed earth - a highly fire-resistant material that creates a symbolic connection between the Herbarium and the earth from which all specimens housed once grew.

An innovative hovering winged ‘fly-roof’’ will protect and cool the vaults, whilst providing greater shade on external terraces for visitors. The elegant, long span structure of this roof will support a large format photovoltaic array that will generate solar energy for the facility. It will also harvest rainwater for irrigation of living plant specimens.

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