Elephant House at Copenhagen Zoo by Foster + Partners

Elephant House at Copenhagen Zoo by Foster + Partners

The new Elephant House at Copenhagen Zoo, designed by architects Foster + Partners, opened yesterday.

1195_fp277084_mediumsq.jpg

The house features two glass-domed enclosures, allowing bull elephants to get away from the rest of the herd when they need to be alone.

1195_fp132341.jpg

Above and below: sketches by Norman Foster

1195_fp132340.jpg

Below is the press release from Foster + Partners:

--

10 June 2008

Elephant House opens at Copenhagen Zoo

1195_fp277032_medium.jpg

The new Elephant House at Copenhagen Zoo opened today following an official ceremony attended by His Royal Highness the Prince Consort of Denmark and his grandson, Prince Christian.

1195_fp277057_medium.jpg

This new Elephant House provides these magnificent animals with a stimulating environment, including easily accessible spaces for the public to enjoy them, and restores the visual relationship between the zoo and the park.

1195_fp277030_medium.jpg

The project has been driven by research into the behavioural patterns of elephants. The tendency for bull elephants in the wild to roam away from the main herd prompted a plan organised around two separate enclosures. Covered with lightweight, glazed domes to provide natural light, these enclosures are designed to bring a sense of light and openness to a building type traditionally characterised as closed.

1195_fp277040_medium.jpg

The spaces maintain a strong visual connection with the sky and changing patterns of daylight and the distinctive ‘fritting’ on the glazing simulates a canopy of trees. The varying levels on the site are exploited in cross-section. The elephant enclosures are set deep into the ground, ensuring excellent insulation on the perimeter walls and a natural fusion with the landscape.

1195_fp277074_medium.jpg

Additionally, the glazed domes have opening windows to allow natural ventilation and there is a heat recovery system – further enhancing the environmental efficiency of the scheme.

1195_fp277085_medium.jpg

The Elephant House is Foster + Partners’ first zoological building. Inserted into the natural contours of the site, it replaces a structure dating from 1914 and sets new standards in zoological design, providing the animals with a stimulating environment that recreates aspects of their former Asian habitat.

1195_fp277100_medium.jpg

It is built with a warm terracotta-coloured concrete and the yellow beach-like sand that naturally existed on the site has been recycled to create the paddocks. The colours and textures convey a sense of the dry riverbed as found at the edge of the rainforest – a favourite haunt of Asian elephants.

1195_fp277141_medium.jpg

With mud holes, scattered pools of water and shading objects, the new Elephant House is a place where the animals can play and interact naturally. Broad public viewing terraces run around the domes externally, while a ramped promenade leads down into an educational space, looking into the enclosures along the way.

1195_fp287678_medium.jpg

Spencer de Grey, Senior Executive and Head of Design said: “As our first zoo project, we were asked to create a new enclosure for a herd of Asian Elephants in Denmark’s renowned Copenhagen Zoo. We have designed a building that not only responds to the animals’ natural behaviour, but is also a seamless insertion into the landscape that uses the site’s natural properties to provide thermal insulation. We are delighted to learn that the elephants are enjoying their new home.”

1195_fp104232.jpg

Notes to editors:

  • Copenhagen Zoo is the most visited cultural institution in Denmark, attracting over 1.2 million visitors a year and is set within an historic royal park, adjacent to the Fredriksberg Palace
  • The carefully considered landscape, designed by Stig L Andersson, seeks to reinforce the relationship between the zoo and the adjacent royal park and provides the public with more accessible viewing and educational facilities.
  • New standards have been set in terms of the elephants’ well-being. The main herd enclosure will, for the first time, enable elephants in captivity to spend the night together, as they would in the wild.
  • The ‘fritting’ pattern on the glazed roof canopies was created by sampling four species of tree. A computer script was written to rotate, scale and randomly populate the roof, so that no two ‘leaves’ are the same. The overlapping pattern provides naturalistic dappled light.
1195_fp104230-1.jpg
1195_fp102173.jpg