The Greenhouse Dilemma

The Greenhouse Dilemma
Soleuvre Greenhouses_Photo © Steve Ginepri x Histoires de serres by d-o-t-s
A conference to investigate the multilayered and controversial identity of greenhouses as pervasive horti-cultural production tools.

mufi, France
A nomadic curatorial practice exploring the multifaceted relationships that humans & other-than-humans establish with-in the environments they cohabit
Team members
Laura Drouet
Olivier Lacrouts
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Ecology, Curating, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

d-o-t-s is a nomadic curatorial practice founded by Laura Drouet and Olivier Lacrouts. The duo’s investigations focus on the diverse and questionable relationships that – through design – human communities establish among themselves, with other animals, plants, and landscapes. Defined by the participatory and interdisciplinary approach, d-o-t-s’ work spans writing, exhibition-making, hands-on workshops and design commissions.

Laura (Niort – FR, 1989) holds an MA in History of Art from the University of Poitiers, France. Olivier (Milan – IT, 1988) holds a BA in Industrial Design from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy.

d-o-t-s’ recent and ongoing projects include: the book & touring exhibition Plant Fever. Towards a Phyto-centred Design (this year at Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden – DE, 27.04–03.11.2024); the book Greenhouse Stories. A Critical Re-examination of Transparent Microcosms (Onomatopee – NL, 2023); the dance-film Stork Fiction (France, 2023); the long-term field investigation Rural [Re]generation (Europe, 2020–ongoing).

Architecturally speaking, the term ‘greenhouse’ refers to buildings designed to protect, cultivate and multiply plants under conditions that artificially reproduce their habitat of origin. Throughout the centuries, these transparent microcosms have allowed nations to improve their scientific knowledge, provide botanical education to the masses and develop horticultural innovations. Parallel to these benefits, however, greenhouses have also had a series of harmful consequences on the way we relate to others, both humans and other-than-humans, and the environments we all cohabit.

Nowadays, industrial greenhouses constitute one of the backbones of our globalised economy. By freeing us from the constraints of seasonal cycles, geography and plant rhythms – satisfying our desire to have everything here and now – industrial greenhouses contribute to the Western idea of humans’ as separate from and superior to ‘Nature’.

Rather than celebrating greenhouses as technical prowesses, The Greenhouse Dilemma tries to unveil the multilayered identity of these structures, casting light on some of the controversies they embed. Featuring historians, philosophers, growers, designers and associations, the conference addresses topics such as: the environmental & social consequences of agricultural productivism; the light & sound pollution of mega-greenhouses; the inequalities produced by North-South trades; the decolonisation of botanical gardens; and more…

The Greenhouse Dilemma is part of a broader research on greenhouses that d-o-t-s initiated in 2020. The 1st chapter took place between 2021 and 2022, and consisted in the artistic reactivation and safeguard of an abandoned horticultural complex through design installations, workshops, and conferences. The 2nd chapter is the book Greenhouse Stories. A Critical Re-examination of Transparent Microcosms (Onomatopee – NL, 2023).