Korkeasaari Zoo by Beckmann-N'Thépé and TN+



French architects Beckmann-N’Thépé and landscape designers TN+ have won a competition to remodel Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki, Finland.


The proposal involves creating a large glass-domed entrance and animal viewing building on the island zoo, and bringing back polar bears after a 30-year absence.


Here's some info from the architects:


sarl d'Architecture

(Helsinki – Finlande)

Programme :
Redevelopment of helsinki Zoo / Landscape / greenhouses, auditorium, nocturama, reception office, souvenir shop, technical room, restaurant.


Beckmann-N’Thépé Agency (Paris)
Aldric Beckmann, Françoise N’thépé
Landscape design:
TN Plus Agency (Paris)
Bruno Tanant, Jean Christophe Nani
City of Helsinki (Finlande)
26,2 ha
Delivery date:


Design team:
Project manager: Wilfried Daufy
Architects: Anne-Catherine Dufros
Assistant architects: Constance Héau, Jessica Pallatier
Landscape design: Guillaume Derrien, Agathe Turmel
Zoo expert: Jean Marc Lernould



The zoological island of Korkeasaari will be cut off again. Its architectural interventions will be concentrated to make it wild and mysterious once more – a park / garden as a place of popular privilege, the nobility of the future city.


Architecture disappears in favour of controlled geography, like the resurgence of a neighbouring landscape. The entrance grouping the set of utilities crucial to the running of the zoo becomes a focus of visual identity, somewhere between form and shapelessness, pierced with cavities.


Above: entrance lower level. Below: entrance upper level


Like layers of skin peeled back to receive an implant, there will be an above and a below that dialogue and interpenetrate one another. Areas of light, uncertainty, reflections and depths will be developed, offering the first emotions of a visit that will play on time and the seasons through four biozones :
- Central Asian Steppe
- Arctic Pole
- Asian Temperate Forest
- Central Asian Mountain


Above: polar bear enclosure

More zoo buildings on Dezeen:



Aviary, Geneva, by Group8


Elephant House, Copenhagen Zoo, by Foster + Partners

Posted on Monday February 23rd 2009 at 2:36 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Aaron

    ‘Cool’ architecture, but God help the poor animals…

  • andreas

    something very erotic about this, maby its just me

  • Jay D

    Exactly Aaron, exactly.

  • Mowgli


  • My distinguished colleague, Mr. Esa Laaksonen, director of the Alvar Aalto Academy here in Finland had quite a critical opinion about the result of this competition in ARKKITEHTIUUTISET, in his column in Finnish. I have no idea whether or not the column has been translated into English. Worth reading, though… Arkkitehtiuutiset is published by SAFA (www.safa.fi) and you can ask more abiut the content of the column from the pr person Ms. Päivi Virtanen – in case you are interested.

  • yimyim

    more student work yay!

  • Ben

    excellent architecture

  • Aaron

    Exactly *how * is this excellent architecture? Because it makes people go ‘wow’? Excellent architecture, among other things, responds to the requirements of the brief. One would hope one of the key requirements of the brief was to house the animals in a humane way. I would suggest that a primary way of doing this would have been to have as little ‘architecture’ as possible.

    Many people wouldn’t choose to live in a building like this. I suspect even fewer animals would. The same goes for Lord Foster’s zoo design.

  • bas

    it looks insane, shame im against zoo’s!

  • Matias Blair

    humans amd animal are species totally diferent…. they don’t gonna understand why this architecture are so poor, and they gonna feel bad because the biological enviroment are so facke. terrible design¡

  • As Matias is somewhat saying above, humans and animals are different. Animals are not like people, in having a desire for “freedom” the same way we do. They are all about eating, sleeping, and procreating, so as long as their instinctive needs are met, they will be happy. Thus, there is nothing at all bad about zoos. In fact, if not for zoos, many more animals would be extinct. Besides this, zoos bring animals to people, in particular children. When children learn to love animals, they will grow up to protect animals.

    This architecture truly does look exciting! I can’t wait to go see it for myself.

    Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America’s Best Zoos

  • This site is great. I wish I had more time to sit and read each post but I gotta get to work. I will be back for sure. Keep up the great work. Thanks.

  • Jack

    Impractical, horrible to build, impossible to maintain and nightmare for animals. If management likes this design so much, we should put them in there and build a proper one for animals. There is a reason why Germans always walk over French you know?