Shanghai Taiyo Kogyo Co. Ltd. | Shanghai, Shanghai China
Nantong Horticultural Exhibition Garden is a giant botanical garden in Jiangsu Province, China, with a domed greenhouse in the center of the garden that forms a biome for trees and plants. Ethyl-tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) was used — instead of glass — to enclose the giant dome, which won an Award of Excellence in the tensile structures, 6,000-25,000 sq. ft. category of the 2008 International Achievement Awards, because it is a strong, highly-transparent foil that is only one percent of the weight of glass. There are more than 250 ETFE panels all together. In keeping with the environmental nature of the greenhouse, ETFE is recyclable. The material is anti-static, self-cleaning and easily repairable. The hexagonal and polygonal ETFE pillows consist of three layers into which air is pumped by a heating system. Once inflated, the pillows provide more insulation than glass. This makes them particularly weather resistant. In exceptionally cold weather they can be inflated further. Their strength is quite impressive: each panel can easily support the weight of a human and will last 20 to 30 years.