CHYBIK+KRISTOF to resurrect Gregor Mendel’s greenhouse in Czech Republic

To mark the 200th birth anniversary of Mendel in 2022, a new greenhouse will be built at the famed site in Brno where the father of modern genetics conducted his breeding experiments.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Apr 28, 2020

The historic 19th century greenhouse in the Czech town of Brno, where celebrated scientist Gregor Mendel discovered the fundamental laws of inheritance, is being resurrected by local architects, CHYBIK+KRISTOF. The project introduces a trapezoidal volume with a layout that follows the ground plan of Mendel’s beloved garden.

A visualisation of the new Mendel Greenhouse in Brno, Czech Republic  | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
A visualisation of the new Mendel Greenhouse in Brno, Czech Republic Image Credit: monolot, Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

Located on a four-acre patch of land, the original greenhouse belonged to the St. Augustinian Abbey where Mendel was a friar. He spent eight years (1856-63) in the space conducting experiments on pea plants to investigate how physical traits are passed down from one generation to the next, unbeknown to him at the time that he was laying the groundwork of modern genetics. Unfortunately, the greenhouse was swept away in a storm in the 1870s, of which now only the foundation remains.

Mendel’s original Greenhouse | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
Mendel’s original greenhouse Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

Drawing from the historic and scientific legacy of the site, architects Ondřej Chybík and Michal Krištof have put the original garden’s footprint and identity at the centre of their intervention, including the former orientation, shape and the distinct form.

The new building will sit on the foundation of the original greenhouse | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
The new building will sit on the foundation of the original greenhouse Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

The new greenhouse is being visualised as a criss-cross framework of steel bars that make up fully open walls and a pitched roof that reveal a striking visual transparency to the space. 

A comparison between the original and new volume | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
A comparison between the original and the new volume Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

A key inspiration in deriving the form of the new greenhouse and its various details is sought in the treasured contribution of its original inhabitant, 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,” explains founder Ondřej Chybík.

“Laid bare by the transparency of the glass roof, the edifice both embodies and exposes his undeniable contribution to modern science.”

  • Scheme of Mendel’s laws of inheritance applied to the structural system | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
    Scheme of Mendel’s laws of inheritance applied to the structural system Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF
  • Scheme of Mendel’s laws of inheritance applied to the entire structural system | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
    Scheme of Mendel’s laws of inheritance applied to the entire structural system Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF
  • A complex arrangement of steel bars compose the roof of the greenhouse | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
    A complex arrangement of steel bars compose the roof of the greenhouse Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

To ensure the space remains comfortable in any weather condition, CHBYK+KRISTOF has imparted a sustainable scheme to the project. During winter, the concealed system of heat pumps located underground will help warm up the interiors, while in summers, the adjusted shades embedded in the steel framework will cut direct sunlight and allow natural cooling and ventilation. Overall, the scheme revisits the regulative properties of a greenhouse.

Adjusted shades embedded in the steel framework will create conducive interiors during summers | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
Adjusted shades embedded in the steel framework will create conducive interiors during summers Image Credit: monolot, Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

In addition to creating a conducive micro-climate, the design of the space is flexible to suit different needs. “The vast, adaptable volume allows for a diversity of events from conferences and lectures to temporary exhibitions, while the integrated blinds enable the space to be darkened for projections and concerts,” adds the studio.

A visualisation of the proposed interiors   | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
A visualisation of the proposed interiors Image Credit: monolot, Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

The project is an attempt to create a ‘gentle monument’, a term the studio defines for a building that reminds us of our values and of our place in time, but not through its imposing form. Mendel’s resurrected greenhouse, the designers believe, is a playful investigation into how historical references can be interpreted.

  • Section | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
    Section Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF
  • Layout Plan | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
    Layout Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF
  • Flexible spatial layout facilitates an array of events | CHYBIK+KRISTOF | Greenhouse, Brno | STIRworld
    Flexible spatial layout facilitates an array of events Image Credit: Courtesy of CHYBIK+KRISTOF

The resurrected greenhouse is envisioned to commemorate a milestone in the history of modern genetics as its completion is due in 2022 – the year which would mark the 200th birth anniversary of its pioneering advocate.

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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