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News: Foster + London Zoo

Foster + Partners to transform Cedric Price's London Zoo aviary into monkey enclosure

Norman Foster's firm has been appointed to revamp the Snowdon Aviary at London Zoo – one of the most iconic designs of the late British architect Cedric Price.

Foster + Partners will restore the 51-year-old structure that, when completed, was the first walk-through aviary anywhere in Britain. Instead of housing birds, it is set to become an enclosure for colobus monkeys.

News: Foster + London Zoo

The aviary was first conceived by photographer and filmmaker Lord Snowdon. Working with engineer Frank Newby, Price drew on the teachings of his mentor, Buckminster Fuller, to realise the project as an elaborate steel geometry.

It is one of few completed projects by the notorious paper architect, whose best-known work is his proposal for a "fun palace" – a laboratory for music and theatre, which inspired Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in their design for the Pompidou Centre.

Norman Foster said he is "honoured and delighted" to be given the opportunity to revive one of Price's works.

News: Foster + London Zoo

"I have a particular personal affection for it as it shows most strongly the influence of our mutual friend and mentor Buckminster Fuller," he said.

The £7 million project will involve modernising the heritage-listed structure, which is visible from Regent's Canal and Primrose Hill. When it reopens, visitors will be able to get closer to the animals than ever before.

According to zoo director David Field, it will be the most ambitious project in the history of London Zoo – whose former commissions include a modernist penguin pool by Berthold Lubetkin and the rough concrete Elephant House by Hugh Casson and Neville Condor.

News: Foster + London Zoo

"The redevelopment of the aviary is a unique opportunity to preserve this exceptional structure and the legacy of pioneering architecture at ZSL London Zoo," said Foster.

"It will be a great privilege to be able to contribute to the tradition of contemporary architectural additions at one of London's most cherished institutions."

Cedric Price passed away in 2003 at the age of 68. His other career achievements included collaborating with Buckminster Fuller on the Claverton Dome, the proposal for a "thinkbelt" on an abandoned railway and a reimagining of London's South Bank.

Photography is by Daniel Sprawson unless otherwise stated.