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Kloster Kappel – New Gardens


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Location: Switzerland / Zürich / Type: Cultural Heritage / Built: 2019 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on March 22, 2024

The former monastery «Kloster Kappel» is a historically unique site and an architectural monument of national importance. The revitalization of the monastery complex strengthens its overall impact. The access to the complex has been improved and the property has been made more attractive to the public.
The outstanding ensemble is embedded in a gently rolling landscape and offers an impressive view of the Alps. In order to do justice to this structural and topographical setting, the valuable gardens were brought back inside the monastery wall and seat apart from the surrounding fields and meadows. Inside, the contrast between the surrounding open landscape and the introverted, well-tended gardens of the former monastery can once again be experienced. The completion of the 18th century monastery wall, which is part of the overall concept, creates a clear structural and atmospheric separation between the inner monastery area and the agricultural uses outside the walls. The three typologies of cross garden, vegetable garden and herb garden have been returned to their original locations. The baroque reorganization of the 18th century complex, from which the majority of the still visible building fabric has been preserved, serves as a reference.

The gardens have been interpreted in accordance with their documented character. Today, as a ProSpecieRara garden, the vegetable garden makes an important contribution to preserving the varietal richness for future generations. In the ornamental garden, which was already described as such in old writings, a modern, perennial planting has been realized with historical medicinal plants. The cloister garden is a green place of silence and contemplation with a contemporary fountain in the center of the cloister.

Vegetable garden

Like most Cistercian monasteries, Kloster Kappel was founded at the end of the 12th century far away from settlements so that the monastic community could immerse itself in prayer and work through a simple way of life. The Cistercian gardens were therefore primarily kitchen gardens for self-sufficiency. From the beginning of the 18th century, the area between the convent and the monastery wall was used as a vegetable garden. Today, the vegetable garden takes on a new role: in collaboration with the ProSpecieRara Foundation, the diversity of old vegetable varieties is highlighted and an important contribution is made to preserving the abundance of varieties through the targeted propagation of seeds.

Cloister garden

The cloister garden is a place of silence and contemplation within the monastery grounds. The square shape dictated by the building walls is reinforced by the planting. The fountain is the central element of the garden and a meeting point for the church. Its octagonal shape is modeled on the baptismal font. The sky is reflected in the surface of the water, reinforcing the reference to the significance of the cloister garden as paradise on earth.

Ornamental garden

The ornamental garden, newly created in 2019, is based on the Baroque design language of the 18th century. No details are known about the plants grown in Kappel at that time. The ornamental planting within the formally trimmed hedges is inspired by the monastic culture of medicinal herb gardens, whose importance for the medical use of medicinal plants continues to this day.

Project Data

Landscape Architecture: bbz landschaftsarchitekten

Project location: Zurich, Switzerland

Year completed: 2019

Photo credits: Alexander Gempeler Architekturfotografie

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