Copenhagen Zoo ensures that architects are involved in the creation of animal enclosures. The richer the country is, the more likely you come across luxurious zoos and prisons? Anyway, the zoo of Copenhagen is a prosperous zoo in a rich country featuring expensive animals in spacious enclosures designed by several renowned architects.
Architects and Copenhagen Zoo
Frits Schlegel, a prominent of post-war modernism in Denmark in the 1930s, is not only the architect of the concert hall in Tivoli Park but also of several enclosures in Copenhagen's zoo. Early examples of simple modernism cutting away all those 19th-century frills. His name is attached to the snake pits (1938), the giraffe house (1939), the polar bear grotto where a plaque reports that the city council has awarded Schlegel's design, in 1950. In 2008, the city council grants design prizes for the elephant compound by Foster & Parents and the Hippopotamus House by Dall & Lindhardsen.
Immediately upon entering you stumble upon a tower from 1905. The building is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower but made of wood. It rises to 43.5 meters, making it one of the tallest wooden observation towers in the world. A 182-step staircase is leading up to a view of 34.2 meters above ground level. The tower has a flag and an 80-cm high crown at its top, while the distance from the tip of the flagpole to the ground is 50 m. Making the climb costs about 10 Danish crowns.
In 1984, the chimps are moving from the ape house (1891) to the ape jungle. The pure functionalist Store Rovdyrhus (large predator house) by Schlegel had to be demolished then, to accommodate the ape jungle. After another revamp in 1997, the building is called World of Primates.
The very first wooden elephant house of 1878 is replaced by an elephant temple in 1914. This red brick building with a façade resembling the front of a classical temple has been declared of cultural heritage, but also as outdated to 21st centuries standards for the largest animal of the zoo. It is now inhabited by camels.
Architect: PA Rosenkilde Gram
When the brick elephant house (1914) becomes too small for the Asian elephant herd of five cows and two bulls, the director of the zoo takes a look across the border. He is completely fascinated by the glass-covered Great Court of the British Museum by top architect Sir Norman Foster. What a perfect.... Elephant House! Copenhagen adds a new elephant enclosure, in 2008. The landscape architect creates a seamless blend between the zoo and the adjoining Frederiksberg Gardens, so that park visitors can watch the elephants and vice versa. Visual integration.
The architects tie in with the Indian elephant in the wild and maybe a bit more with the customer experience and safety aspects. There are two separate accommodations because the bulls remain solitary most of the year. The bottom is covered with a layer of a half meter of sand instead of using concrete. The solid terracotta concrete walls are 30 cm thick. Zookeepers could slip through between the terracotta concrete poles if they feel unsafe. Not the elephants. In the indoor enclosure (the stable for the herd), zoogoers see elephants as well as they hear and smell them. The experience in the visitor space with dim light is like going to the cinema. Research and educational spaces are not lacking. Indoors, the elephants can use 1360m2 while the visitors' space is 2300m2.
Each indoor enclosure features an undulated glass roof which floods the interior with natural light, making all changes in the sky visible. The domes seem decorated with white tree leaves. Thanks to software no two ' leaves ' are alike. Everything, from the double glazed windows to the sophisticated heating and ventilation system as eco-friendly as possible. There are elephants showers and the outdoor area is equipped with a huge swimming pool. The total area is 10.730m2.
Architect: Foster and Partners
Landscape architect Stig Andersen
After an inspiring visit to zoo Berlin, bird specialist Niels Kjaerbølling may start a public menagerie on a 0.98 acres piece of land in the Princess Wilhelmine Garden for the duration of 10 years. The zoo opens on September 20, 1859, featuring a seal in a tub, a turtle in a bucket, rabbits, birds and a fox. In the beginning, there is no sewage system. For years, there is also a winter break to cut feed costs. Mid-November the native animals are released and the seal is killed to start again in spring with other animals. In 1868 the zoo moves to its current location in Frederiksberg. Kjaerbølling remains director until his death in 1871. In 1936, director Theodor Alving laid out the central garden. Besides the bust of Kjaerbølling you will come across a clocks standard from 1932, made of wood from the predator house.
The zoo develops gradually and mainly focuses on obtaining as many different animals as possible. When animal welfare becomes in vogue each animal is allowed more space reducing the total number of zoo animals. Animal cages make way for landscaped enclosures. Nowadays, the zoo is committed to education and international programs and acting as a sparring partner for other Danish zoos. The Danish Government provides financial support although Copenhagen zoo is privately owned since 1872.
1890-1903 Display of people from India
At the end of the 19th century, about 50 exhibitions of people take place in Denmark: human caravans. In 1901, Copenhagen zoo exhibits three months an Indian village complete with about 30 Indians (men, women, and children), with trained elephants, snakes, and bears. The entertainment value to the public consists of a glimpse into the daily life of the foreigners, perceived as exotic, a kind of precursor to real life programs. Also, the Indians thus spending three months in the zoo put on rousing shows with acrobats and their exotic animals.
Visit March 2009
Near the entrance, you will find a small piece of the original zoo featuring a lion terrace, snake pits, and an open air-theatre.
Division into habitats
- Bird pond, and gibbon island;
- Scandinavian and the Arctic area with wolves, musk oxen, reindeer and polar bears;
- Asa featuring the elephant compound by Sir Norman Foster and tapirs in the herbivore house 1875;
- Tropical greenhouse with tropical rain showers and butterflies;
- South America.
A pedestrian tunnel under Roskildevej (the traffic road) leads to a newer part with even more habitats. The new part looks a bit bare and includes Africa and Oceania.
Zoo maps Copenhagen
1 Bird pond, Gibbon island 2 Lion 3 Flamingo 4 Seal 5 Polar bear
6 Brown bear 7 Northern Europe - Reindeer 8 Musk ox 9 Wolf 10 Elephant
11 Tapir 12 Asia 13 Red panda 14 Tropical zoo 15 Apes
16 Reptile- en fish grotto 17 South America 18 Prairie dog 19 Central garden 20 Seal, penguin
21 Nocturnal house 22 Ape house 23 Snake pits 24 Batrian camel 25 Caracal
26 Africa 27 African savannah 28 Rhino, wildebeest
29 Kea, ringtailed lemur, Galapagos turtle 30 Emu, kangaroo 31 Children's farm
- Species: 264
- Animals: 3500
- 11 ha
- 1,2 million a year
- 19th-century zoo
- Architect involved
Sources / Links
Foster and Partners, Elephant House Copenhagen Zoo
Bo Bolther, architectural photography, flodhestehuset
Copenhagen Zoo's Scientific Director Defends Killing Giraffe
BBC news, 'Surplus' giraffe put down at Copenhagen Zoo
Archdaily, Yin yang shaped panda enclosure for the Copenhagen zoo