The Orchidarium Professor Ruth Cardoso / Decio Tozzi

© Ricardo Canton

Architects: Decio Tozzi
Location: Villa-Lobos Park,
Collaborators: Stefani Samara,  Natalia Necco
Project year: 2010
Photographs: Ricardo Canton

© Ricardo Canton

The orchidarium Professor Ruth Cardoso has its form inspired on the “habitat” of the africans, indigenous and pré-colombian’s cultures.

The solutions for the domain and transformation of nature were studied to indentify the way to obtain diffuse illumination and permanent ventilation using constructive process and form suitable with technique used by these cultures.

© Ricardo Canton

In this way the forms found in several Africans communities and indigenous Brazilians tribes, that use zenithal openings for the controlled entrance of light and permanent ventilation, made with soil, assume, through actual steel technology with glass and plastic transparent walls, a diaphanous hut form.

A leaked beam, in an arc shape, structure the model and propose the orchidarium scale offering the necessary air volume to the permanent air’s displacement, required to keep the orchid’s delicacy.

© Ricardo Canton

From both side of this leaked beam there are a sequence of curve frame-work supported on the ring of the semi-circular, locked by horizontals meridians that configure the quarter of sphere of the orchidarium’s form.

On one side the intersection of this metallic spherical structure make itself in the beam’s inferior architrave and on the other side in the beam’s superior architrave, enabling the air’s escape through the concrete master arc’s openings that has the permanent ventilation’s function.

© Ricardo Canton

Its implantation follows the pre-colombian habitat’s implantation lesson, found in Brasil, that used to bury half of the habitation to be protected from the strong wind, letting only the roofs outside.

Similarly, in the Villa-Lobos Park, the Orchidarium’s level is 1,5 meters bellow the land line and the access is through a generous ramp since the entrance.

plan 01

This solution creates a foundation naturally, above 1,20 meters from the Park’s level, where lands the hut’s transparent form that configures the Orchidarium.

Its scale integrates itself to the Park’s free space and relates, harmoniously, with the other Park’s buildings and the water’s tower. Thus the orchidarium’s design created as diaphanous hut, honors the Professor Ruth Cardoso as a contemporaneous expression of primitive cultures that as anthropologist she studied and as citizen she always defended.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "The Orchidarium Professor Ruth Cardoso / Decio Tozzi" 15 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • SB

    Back to the 80′s! Grimshaw did a much better job with the biomes at the Eden project…

  • MMA

    Ruth Cardoso was a woman. So, the portuguese name of the orchidarium is “Professora Ruth Cardoso”. It was built recently but is, indeed, a project of the 80′s.

  • LF

    This project is an espectacular way of showing us which kind of beautiful architecture Decio Tozzi does. It is amazing!