Theme park in Kentucky to be housed in giant wooden ark

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Creationist theme park in Kentucky to feature giant wooden ark building

A biblical theme park is nearing completion in Kentucky, USA, featuring a giant wooden structure based on Noah's Ark.

The building, described as an "enormous ship", was designed by Indiana firm Troyer Group. It will form part of Ark Encounter – a theme park aiming to illustrate the story of the legendary great flood, in which God instructs Noah to build an ark to save his family and a pair of each of the world's animal species.

Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
Artist's impression showing overview of Ark Encounter

Ark Encounter will be located near sister attraction the Creation Museum in the city of Williamstown. The park and museum are run by Answers in Genesis, a Christian fundamentalist organisation that raised $24.5 million (£16 million) of the project's $86 million (£56.5 million) construction cost.

The wooden building will be 155 metres long and 24 metres tall, giving it a footprint equal to approximately two football pitches. The organisation claims it will be the largest timber-frame structure in the USA when it completes in July 2016, although construction images show a concrete inner shell.

Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
Rendering showing the ark under construction

"The ark is based on the dimensions recorded in the Bible and was designed in accordance with sound, established nautical engineering practices of the biblical era," said the organisation.

"Through the construction of a massive full-scale Noah's Ark, the Ark Encounter will present America and other nations with a reminder of the Bible's account of the ark and the faithfulness of Noah."

The ark is being constructed by Amish carpenters using modern techniques and tools. Much of the wood being used in the construction came from areas damaged by plagues of beetles or from sustainable forests, according to the organisation.

Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
Answers in Genesis says the ark will the largest timber building in the USA

It will feature a curved bow, stern and sides and contain three floors of exhibits including model dinosaurs.

"Scripture does not discuss the shape of Noah's Ark beyond the overall proportions of length, breadth, and depth," said a statement from Answers in Genesis.

Up to 900 staff are expected to be employed in the vast 324-hectare-park, which will also feature themed restaurants and a petting zoo called Noah's Animals.

Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
Construction of the ark's concrete shell

A "Tower of Babel", walk-through aviary and a replica of a first-century Middle Eastern village will also join the ark in later phases of the park's development.

Ark Encounter is expected to open in July 2016 and to receive one to two million visitors in its first year. The park will remain open for forty days and forty nights during the summer – a reference to the number of days rain is said to have fallen during the biblical flood.

Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
A diagram of the ark's dimensions as described in Genesis 6:15 – click for larger image
Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
First floor plan – click for larger image
Ark Encounter by Troyer Group
Second floor plan – click for larger image