Having checked off LEGO-inspired edifices, trash-incinerating artificial ski slopes, and courtyard-skyscrapers off his in-development list, what could Bjarke Ingels, starry-eyed architect par excellence and bone fide Danish national treasure, possibly dream up next?
How about a zoo?
The latest aggressively — and wonderfully — bonkers commission taken on by Ingels’ eponymous firm, BIG, is, in fact, a zoological garden. Well, a “Zootopia” to be exact. And it’s pure Ingels: thoughtful, daring, fun, and so crazy that it just might work.
The client in question is Denmark’s famed Givskud Zoo, a zoo (more of a safari park, really) already renowned for offering visitors an unorthodox zoo-going experience. Since opening in the late 1960s as Løveparken (Lion Park), visitors have had the option of driving thir own cars through a massive lion enclosure (the zoo’s resident pride is the largest in Northern Europe). Rolled-up windows and sunroofs are compulsory for the obvious reasons.
BIG’s proposed redesign further turns the standard zoo concept inside out — a naturalistic vision, apparently liberated from the typical barriers such as partitions and cages, in which humans, obscured whenever possible, are surrounded by freely roaming wild beasts and not vice versa.
Architects’ greatest and most important task is to design man-made ecosystems — to ensure that our cities and buildings suit the way we want to live. We must make sure that our cities offer a generous framework for different people — from different backgrounds, economy, gender, culture, education and age — so they can live together in harmony while taking into account individual needs as well as the common good. Nowhere is this challenge more acrimonious than in a zoo. It is our dream — with Givskud — to create the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors.
As Designboom explains “the complex’s building elements are integrated with the landscape, to conceal their appearance to the animals while distinctly fitting to the individual species.”
Given that the particulars of the design are still scant at this stage and likely to be tweaked moving forward, it’s a bit unclear exactly how far the barriers between animals and ticket-holding guests will be broken down. But judging from the renderings and from BIG’s own words, it would seem that they’re pretty darn broken down; in many cases, there's no separation. As you can see from the renderings, Zootopia would employ mirrored spheres to help guests remain hidden from sight from the animals while exploring each of the habitats.
We are pleased to embark on an exciting journey of discovery with the Givskud staff and population of animals — and hope that we could both enhance the quality of life for the animals as well as the keepers and guests — but indeed also to discover ideas and opportunities that we will be able to transfer back into the urban jungle. Who knows perhaps a rhino can teach us something about how we live — or could live in the future?
Zoo aficionados: any thoughts on this next-level safari design?
Via [Designboom], [Copenhagen Post]
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