Blankenfelde Botanical Park was founded in 1909 to be a school garden, market garden and plant nursery for Berlin. By 1928-29 a number of glasshouses had been built. 1,000 m2 of the park was already under glass in 1915. Flowers and ornamental plants for the parks, gardens and cemeteries of several of Berlin’s districts and for its Town Hall (Rathaus) and City Hall (Stadthaus) were grown here.
The building complex on the park’s main axis, consisting of a greenhouse built in 1916 and the two greenhouses added to it in 1928, opened up the possibility of growing groups of larger trees, bushes, shrubs and succulents from different climatic regions in accordance with their native topography and presenting them in the glasshouses.
In 1977 the Humboldt University took over the garden and used its greenhouses for exclusively scientific purposes. Valuable botanical collections were assembled here, such as the Cuba Collection, now in the Botanical Garden in Dahlem. For the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Humboldt University in 1984-85 most of the park’s greenhouses were renovated or, like the Tropical House, entirely rebuilt. After German Reunification the Humboldt University ceased its research activities in Blankenfelde and in 1994 the botanical garden was turned into a public park and listed for preservation as a historic complex.
On the initiative of the local authority, a decision was made in 2005 to reconstruct the greenhouses, stimulated by a need to restore their structural stability and improve their energy efficiency. In a first step, the installation of insulating glazing and profiles considerably reduced energy consumption by 60%. An easily regulated heating system and building automation with integrated ventilation now ensure optimum climatic conditions in individual greenhouses. Plans have also been made to introduce a watering system using rainwater, which is the best water for plants.
In February 2010 the three reconstructed greenhouses were opened to visitors.