Six inner plant courtyards enclosed in glass on three sides penetrate through the interior space of Dock E. On some levels, the sheets of glass are transparent or – as on the departure level – etched, so that only light reaches the walkways. The plants in the courtyards are harbingers of exotic travel destinations: Inside, evergreen climbing plants grow up towards the sky on wire cables – from Laos (Tetrastigma voinierianum), China (Jasminum polyánthum), India (Thunbergia grandiflora), Brazil (Aristolochia littoralis), the Solomon Islands (Epipremnum aureum), and the Caribbean islands (Passiflora quadrangularis). The choice of plants refers to the history of botany: to the 'Wardian Case' named after botanist and physician Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward. The plant species have cultural-historical importance, as they were brought to Europe for the first time by cultural history researchers and other explorers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, in Dock E the plants suggest a new starting point for further journeys. At the departure level, the plant courtyards almost completely wrapped in milky sheets of glass; only one narrow vertical strip of clear glass on each of the long sides provides a look inside. The positioning of the clear window strips on the long sides of the courtyards was determined using Fibonacci numbers. This mathematical sequence of numbers also occurs in the natural world; for example, the arrangement of the sunflower’s seeds exhibit patterns related to the Fibonacci numbers.

Unique (Flughafen Zürich AG), Kloten

Project dates
Project planning        1998–2000
Execution                   2001–2003

Surface area
ca. 20m2/courtyard

Martin Spühler Architekten AG with agps architecture, Zurich

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