Submitted by WA Contents
CHYBIK + KRISTOF wraps historic St. Augustin Abbey greenhouse with glass and steel in Brno
Czech Republic Architecture News - May 31, 2023 - 12:35 1473 views
Czech architecture and urban design practice CHYBIK + KRISTOF has wrapped a historic greenhouse with glass and steel structure to adhere to the principles of scientist and abbot Gregor Mendel’s legacy in modern genetics.
Nestled in the heart of Brno, Czech Republic, the project consists of the renovation of a historic greenhouse of St. Augustin Abbey, where Mendel conducted his first pioneering experiments.
The new design, emulating his drawings of the hereditary system, is now a home to various cultural events such as international conferences, lectures, and exhibitions.
Called Mendel’s Greenhouse, the project is completed as a homage to scientist and abbot Gregor Mendel’s work in genetics and contribution to science, culture and humanity.
The original structure of the greenhouse was damaged by a storm in the 1870s. Later, CHYBIK + KRISTOF (CHK) was commissioned to renovate and envision the structure for the first time as "a pavilion of genetics", commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mendel’s birth.
Entirely visible from outside, the rectangular, glass-clad structure is located against the backdrop of the centuries-old Abbey.
The studio believes that "the new structure establishes an important connection between memory and contemporaneity in service to its community."
"While the exemplary and highly complex design highlights local history and heritage, the Greenhouse concurrently becomes a brand-new public space for strengthening the local social dialogue, combining innovation with respect for the city’s heritage," the office added.
Underlining the studio’s engagement in spatial transformations and adaptation of existing structures to fit contemporary times, CHK’s redesign of the historic greenhouse honors Mendel’s legacy while cultivating a new social dialogue to emerge in its community preserving a sense of belonging.
According to the architects, the new greenhouse will continue Abbey’s legacy as a center of science and culture, serving various purposes to its community.
The greenhouse is clad in glass and fully-exposed side walls, while the structure opens entirely to the greenery outside the monastery, preventing any visual barriers, and inviting visitors to connect with their heritage and discover the world of genetics.
The transparent structure is primarily dedicated to the permanent exhibition of the legacy of Gregor Mendel. Besides a permanent exhibition, the greenhouse is also reserved for various cultural facilities such as international conferences, lectures, and exhibitions.
The studio takes cues from the archival materials and original scheme of the building, CHK’s design sustains the heritage value of the structure replicating its essence, simultaneously adapting it into a contemporary narrative.
Following the original ground plan, the new greenhouse fits seamlessly into the existing urban fabric, as the architects’ reinterpretation echoes the orientation, shape and distinct roof of the greenhouse. A key aesthetic, symbolic but also functional novelty is the reimagined supporting steel roof structure, drawing inspiration from Mendel’s three laws of inheritance.
The nodes and branches constituting the steel supportive framing are in direct dialogue with his laws, in particular, that of hereditary segregation.
Laid bare by the transparency of the glass roof, the structure both embodies and exposes Mendel’s undeniable contribution to modern science through an ultimate design solution.
This honorary addition to the greenhouse preserves the integrity of the scientific invention in a resourceful way, both functionally and aesthetically.
"Although Mendel was stigmatized for his origin and faith by the political regimes of the past, our transformation immortalizes and celebrates the abbot’s substantial achievements to society as a reconciliation with the past ultimately cultivating a sense of belonging," said Ondrej Chybik, co-founder of CHYBIK + KRISTOF.
"The greenhouse revives the area as a beacon of unlikely harmonious bonds working in service of its community," Chybik added.
The studio used simple, cost-efficient and recyclable materials such as steel to the installment of low-carbon cooling and heating systems by the concealed structure of heat pumps. This approach also follows CHK’s dedication to creating sustainable and environmentally friendly design.
To create energy-efficient design, other key features include a concealed system of heat pumps, shading and heating, located underground.
Adjustable shades and embedded blinds to ensure natural cooling and ventilation in the summer and heating in the winter also contribute to the building’s sustainable scheme.
"Located at the heart of Brno’s historic area, Stare Brno, St. Augustin Abbey dates back to the 14th century, known throughout history as a significant intellectual center in Moravia with remarkable achievements in both the arts and science," the office explained.
"This important academic center now houses the cradle of the world of genetics, a restored greenhouse in its garden is where Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian friar at the monastery, spent eight years conducting his experiments, cultivating pea plants to explore their hereditary physical traits," the studio continued.
Ultimately functioning as the monk's outdoor laboratory adjacent so closely to the monastery, the greenhouse restored by CHK serves as a physical reminder of the interchange and connection between science and faith, reviving the community through inclusive social dialogue with the preservation of the histories traced in physical remnants of the area.
The studio unveiled its first conceptual design in 2020.
CHYBIK + KRISTOF recently unveiled design for a hybrid, prototype design to tackle with the ever-present housing crisis that big cities face with.
The studio won a design competition to convert a former textile factory into a new contemporary art gallery and cultural space in the Czech Republic.
All images © Laurian Ghinitoiu.
All drawings © CHYBIK + KRISTOF.
> via CHYBIK + KRISTOF