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The Leaf featured in Canadian Architect and Azure

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February 22, 2024

The Leaf is not your typical greenhouse, partner Mitchell Hall says. It’s a “transcendent experience” that “centres nature and sustainability and is welcoming to everyone.” 

Featured in the latest issues of Canadian Architect and Azure — and earning a spot on the former’s cover this month — The Leaf is a new botanical sanctuary in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park guided by the ambition to celebrate Canada’s cultural diversity. 

Across four interconnected plant biomes, the Leaf houses 12,000 individual plants and 400 unique species from cultures around the world that Winnipeggers and visitors alike might resonate with. It is also home to an Indigenous People’s Garden, a research and education centre, a café, and a restaurant (which serves food made with ingredients grown in the park’s gardens). It is, as Canadian Architect notes, “designed to speak to everyone.” 

It’s showstopping feature, an Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof that Azure calls “spectacular,” was inspired by nature and the Fibonacci sequence. The gentle spiral net found in sunflowers and nautilus shells is extrapolated in the roof’s intricate cable-net structure, which elegantly unfurls around the body of The Leaf, reminiscent of a blossoming flower. 

The Leaf’s “biomimetic, biophilic and culturally informed design,” as described by Canadian Architect, breathes new life into a 100-year-old park and furthers the park’s mission to promote a greater public understanding of and appreciation for the natural world.  

Now, even in the dead of winter, anyone can go to Assiniboine Park, take off their coat and enjoy a few hours in a warm, tropical place, Hall says. 

Read more on Azure and Canadian Architect.