Architecture – From 1856 to 1863, Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian friar and scientist spent eight seasons in the gardens of St. Thomas Abbey, cultivating and breeding pea plants in his endeavor to uncover the biological mechanism through which physical traits are passed down from one generation to the next. CHYBIK + KRISTOF Architects & Urban Designers’ Mendel greenhouse brings back to life the historical building which is due to be completed in 2022, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the scientist’s birth.
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Mendel Greenhouse is located in the gardens of the 14th-century Augustinian monastery which were swept away by a storm in the 1870s, leaving to this day only its foundations. Drawing on the history, scientific legacy and archival materials of the site, and following the original ground plan, CHYBIK + KRISTOF have created a design reminiscent of the original building.
The preserved foundations where integrated in the structure and left visible echoing the orientation, shape and distinct roof of the greenhouse. The trapezoidal volume is identical to the original edifice.
Architect and founder Ondřej Chybík explains “The concept of the redesigned greenhouse is deeply rooted in the work of Gregor Mendel. The nodes and branches constituting the steel supportive framing are in direct dialogue with his laws of inheritance, in particular that of hereditary segregation. Building on this notion as well as Mendel’s original drawings, the resulting, highly complex structure pays homage to his legacy.”
Mendel Greenhouse is open onto and deeply connected with the surrounding gardens and looks onto the nearby statue of the scientist. The flexible design was conceived to adapt to a variety of purposes and is entirely exposed to the exterior with fully open side walls, preventing any visual barriers.
A concealed system of heat pumps, shading and heating, located underground, reveal the building’s sustainable scheme, reliant on its adjustable shades and embedded blinds to ensure natural cooling and ventilation in the summer and heating in the winter – thereby mirroring and revisiting the regulative properties of a greenhouse.
Photos by by monolot – Drawings by CHYBIK + KRISTOF Architects & Urban Designers – Courtesy of CHYBIK + KRISTOF Architects & Urban Designers.