The Snowglobe Effect
A conservatory combining the twin disciplines of architecture and engineering had never been attempted before Charles Fowler built the Great Conservatory which features stone, glass and ironwork, at Syon House in 1830.
The British Architect, famed for his work on market buildings, (including that of Covent Garden Market in London) based his designs on Neo Classical style and temple architecture. Fowler’s ingenious use of modern materials and classical style gave his buildings a signature elegance and sense of calm.
Taking exercise under lock-down restrictions, we recently visited Syon Park, unable to access the interiors, the conservatory seemed staged on an ageless landscape; it evoked appreciation from an objectified perspective and the interior seemed transformed into a celestial installation, resembling a Michelangelo fresco.
On this particular day the sky was full of clouds with strong sunshine breaking through. The conservatory’s large windows, dome and pitched roof were transformed into reflective telescopes, as every angle of the structure revealed a new secret as we peered through. Paradoxically, it seemed as though the clouds were cradling ethereal sunbeams, like celestial bodies that had been captured within the glass interior, like a snow globe.
Standing at either porch end one may gaze the length of central pavilion adjoining the outer chambers like a crucifix assembling around the dome. The interior houses architectural shapes of exotic palms juxtaposed against the graceful lines and curves of the ribbed ceiling creating multidimensional depth; a thing of beauty.
Onto the elegant interior angles, reflections of trees from the surrounding gardens projected onto the stone columns, wrapping themselves around them like ivy. Clouds floated within the pitched roof housing great Cape cacti climbing the walls and reaching for the heavens, beautifully contrasted against the geometric roof and window arches.
Our natural environment is under threat and in this singularly beautiful space we were reminded that modern engineering, architecture and nature can be integrated seamlessly creating elegance, serenity, functionality, and longevity.
“The proper excellence of architecture is that which results from its suitableness to the occasion …
and this principle rightly pursued leads to ORIGINALITY without the affection of NOVELTY” – Fowler
Written by Evthokia Veliotou
Photography Copyright Evthokia Veliotou 2021