WIT Press

Victoria Regia’s Bequest To Modern Architecture


Free (open access)





Page Range

65 - 76




5,234 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


D. Nielsen


This paper will explore the relationship between the giant South American water lily, the Victoria regia (today named Victoria amazonica), and the 1914 Glashaus exposition building by the German architect, Bruno Taut. Starting with a general botanical introduction of Victoria regia, the paper exposes the first European cultivation of the lily by Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth, England, in 1849. Following this initial cultivation, Paxton subsequently develops a specialist greenhouse for the plant, that later becomes the prototype for all Victoria regia greenhouses. However, from about 1860 as Victoria regia cultivation spreads to continental Europe, a greenhouse that differs from Paxton’s prototype subsequently evolves. An investigation of these later continental European greenhouses, coupled with an exposure of Taut’s own writings concerning Victoria regia, reveals startling similarities to the Glashaus, which ultimately reveals the Glashaus as directly inspired by Victoria regia. Keywords: Victoria regia, Bruno Taut, Glashaus, Joseph Paxton. 1 Introduction One result of colonialism was the return of exotic Flora to the European context. On one level, exotic Flora was returned as a curiosity to be admired, while on a more important level, Flora were also returned in an attempt to discover their potential for future economic exploitation [1]. As a result, the desire to scientifically study and propagate these exotic species became increasingly important. However, the European climate was largely unsuitable for plants sourced from diverse climatic regions. Greenhouses were developed in an attempt to artificially recreate the desired climatic conditions for the propagation of exotic Flora. Initially only ‘smaller’ species like citrus were collected and propagated, but as European colonialism and industrialisation aggressively progressed, the desire


Victoria regia, Bruno Taut, Glashaus, Joseph Paxton