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Goethe University Frankfurt. Credit: Arup; Goethe University Frankfurt. Credit: Arup;

Research Greenhouse, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main

Technically innovative concept allows for a new generation of research greenhouses

The Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main is the third largest comprehensive university in Germany (in number of students) and particularly strong in research. We provided full engineering design including structural and building services design, facade design and building physics for its new research greenhouse, where plants are cultivated, tended and presented for life science purposes.

While some of the research requires standardised plants cultivated in normed and identical climate and lighting conditions to ensure comparable test results; other research tests identical plants under varying climate and lighting conditions. The new greenhouse has therefore been subdivided in chambers which can be operated independently in order to allow scientists using the same building for different tests.

The building consists of three glazed arches of different heights, which not only responds to different functional requirements but also ensures that the sun radiation can enter into the building in a rectangular way. This efficient design maximises daylight transmission to the interior research chambers whilst minimising the energy hunger of the green house.

A very lean supporting steel structure and different types of glazing were used for the façades in order to ensure high light transmission and optimum thermal insulation. With its partial two-storey design, the greenhouse is ideally adapted to the sloping site of the campus, whilst the vertical separation improves the light yield for all the departments.

The technical concept allows individual control of day light transmission, chamber temperature, air humidity and irrigation for each chamber in the most energy efficient way.