The building is designed for the city of Prague and stems from Prague inspirations. The design is simple, drawn with one line. This line should be easy to remember and should characterize the Botanical Garden once and for all. The facility is designed to be built in classical technology and from traditional materials (stone, iron, glass, concrete and wood). It can be built step-by-step and each part of it can be a separate piece of architecture, both functionally and aesthetically.
The facility is basically a facing brick house, therefore its purchase price is also favourable. The main supporting structure consists of reinforced concrete skeleton frame in the quality of facing concrete. Also the floors are made of polished concrete. The inner non-load-bearing partitions are lightweight masonry or glass. The greenhouse is designed in hot-dip galvanized steel, coated with glass. Structurally, the facility can be divided into two stages.
The parking space would be created in the first stage only at the level of the 1st floor as a reinforced surface from granite cubes; in the second stage, the second floor would be created from reinforced concrete columns, the monolithic concrete floor will be scalded by trapezoidal sheet metal to be subsequently left in place. There is also a supporting structure for climbing plants designed against overheating of cars in the summer and for the creation of a better microclimate. Plants grow horizontally over steel cables knitted between steel profiles.
Roofs above the public entrance area and the office part are green, accessible to the public, with an educational trail. The facility is designed with regard to its operational efficiency and environmental friendliness. The building is submerged in the green to protect against overheating, but at the same time we have designed architecture that will be meaningful for the place. The building uses recycling of water obtained from rainwater, does not use drinking water for purposes other than drinking, and sewage is purified by means of a WWTP located on the roof of the building.
Rainwater is collected and recycled within the whole site; it is collected in a retention tank and in a pond located in the atrium, and subsequently used for irrigation of plants in the greenhouse and outdoor areas. It is possible to give up using traditional air conditioning, as ventilation is enabled by windows and ecological cooling technologies are implemented. The facility is not hidden underground due to potentially high costs and for the sake of its easy maintenance and sustainability.
The new entrance to the Botanical Garden is accessible from the northern side of the Botanical Garden compound. The facility is designed as a great platform for a game leading to knowledge. The parking lot, which is placed within the facility, is located at the entrance to the grounds. The main entrance to the building is located on the west side. In the entrance lobby, there is a box office with flower and souvenir shop, and sanitary facilities. The lobby connects to the guest area of a restaurant and café and other public rooms – a library and a lecture room.
The restaurant background and goods delivery are situated from the southern wing of the building. The restaurant is visually connected by means of a glass facade to a tall greenhouse, which is primarily used for winter storage of mobile plants. Its additional use may consist in promoting commercial and educational events, such as thematic exhibitions, concerts, social events, celebrations, etc. The low greenhouse features a permanent exhibition of subtropical plants and plants specific for the areas of the Cape Province and Canary Islands.
The office part is located on the eastern side, where there is a separate staff entrance. There are offices designed for individual departments, common areas and necessary facilities. The office part also has access to a small workshop and a storage room for natural materials, with access to a private garage.
The loop-shaped atrium in the middle of the building intermediates a contact between the interior and the exterior of the building and extends the guest area of the restaurant for outdoor seating.
The atrium is complemented with greenery and a water feature with overflowing water surface.The facility has a distinctive graphic shortcut suitable for the promotion of the Botanical Garden, for the memorization of its sign, and for playful development for adults and especially for children, by which this facility “grows” its visitors for the future. The correct management of these activities can make this facility permanently full of visitors and people with growing interest in botany.
- Location: Prague, Czech Republic
- Architect: Fránek Architects
- Architect in Charge: Zdeněk Fránek
- Project Team: Martina Hamrová, Tereza Horňasová, Jiří Vítek, Adam Lacina
- Collaborators: Libor Šenekel, Norbert Walter, Vojtěch Marek, Nina Pestel
- Client: Botanická zahrada hl. m. Prahy (Botanical Garden Prague)
- Year: 2018
- Images: Courtesy of Fránek Architects
Article by Marco Rinaldi