What Is The Calyx? Inside the Royal Botanic Garden's Epic New Structure

Sydney's got a brand new piece of architecture right in the middle of the gardens.
Jasmine Crittenden
Published on June 29, 2016

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Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden turns 200 in June — and it's landed itself one humdinger of a birthday present. Meet The Calyx, the Garden's new world-class horticultural experience. Opened to coincide with the official opening date of the Botanic Gardens on June 13, 1816, 200 years ago, this dazzling new UFO-shaped public space not only houses thousands and thousands of plants, but gives Sydneysiders an escape from the city's busy streets and relentless traffic.

It also provides a new outdoor home for fun, innovative exhibitions. The first, now open, is Sweet Addiction, an interactive adventure through the botanic story of chocolate, from bean to bar. Starting your journey deep in a tropical rainforest, you'll see, touch and smell your way through ancient lands and chocolate plantations, before reaching a tasty pop-up shop — the site for many future chocolate activities and tastings.

Also part of the show is a collection of 18,000 plants, which are arranged as living artworks. Together, they form the biggest green wall in the Southern Hemisphere, measuring six metres in height and 285 square metres in area. Move over, Patrick Blanc. (Mind you, we can't deny that One Central Park's wall is looking prettier with every passing day.)

Of course, the coming of The Calyx hasn't been good for the Pyramid Glasshouse, which, as you might've noticed, has disappeared into the night. That said, things are looking up for The Arc. Designed by Ken Woolley, the impressive piece of architecture is staying put and has scored a mega revamp.

In fact, it's set to become part of the new building, which will be made up of a blend of indoor and outdoor spaces. Their north facing position will let in oodles of light, maximising environmental performance and providing plenty of sun-drenched spots for you to kick back in.

"The Calyx is a fusion of art, theatre and flora, with themed exhibitions that address conservation and environmental issues in an imaginative, accessible way yet to be seen in Australia," said Jimmy Turner, Director of Horticulture Management at the Royal Botanic Garden. "It's Broadway for plants."

Published on June 29, 2016 by Jasmine Crittenden
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