If we’re going to keep animals in artificial environments to make money off gawking at them, you’d hope we’d at least design these structures sensitively, hiring top architects to give them the kind of loving care we’d give to our own homes. Whether building spacious zoo enclosures mimicking natural environments, bat-friendly bridges, stables to house horses in ultimate comfort or wildlife crossings over highways, this collection of animal-centric architecture aims to be the next best thing to leaving animals in the wild where they belong, and giving them plenty of space from human activity.
Panda House by Bjarke Ingels Group / BIG
BIG designed a circular indoor/outdoor enclosure for giant pandas at the Copenhagen Zoo, set to open in 2018. The spacious and lushly planted structure will house two pandas relocated from Chengdu, China in a layout inspired by the Chinese yin-yang symbol, with each half tilting up at either end. There’s a bamboo forest on one side and a denser ‘misty’ forest on the other to represent the panda’s habitats in the wild.
Bat-Friendly Bridge by NEXT Architecture
This bridge by Next Level Architecture in South Holland doubles as a bat habitat, with just a few modifications to a conventional bridge design, providing an example that could be replicated all over the world. Spanning a river that’s an important natural pathway for the local bat population, the bridge features extra-thick concrete to increase its thermal mass, making it warm for winter hibernation and a cool summer nesting spot.
Raven Enclosure at the Tower of London by Llowarch Llowarch Architects
Five oak and mesh aviaries by Llowarch Llowarch Architects contrast with the ancient forms of the Tower of London, replacing the ‘ad hoc collection of sheds’ once used to house the complex’s famous resident ravens. According to English legend, if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, the kingdom will fall – so the birds have been protected inhabitants of the historic palace, fortress and prison since the 17th century. Of course, different ravens have come and gone over the years.
Finnish Stables by Pook
Local architecture studio Pook designed this stylish stable on the edge of a Finnish forest to blend in with the rural setting and complement the local architectural vernacular. The layout creates wind shelters in outdoor spaces to protect the horses against the southwestern winds. Inside, there’s an open room for feeding and walking the horses, storage for equipment and a barn for manure. The use of untreated pine in the cladding helps naturally control the humidity of the environment for the horses’ health.
Kangaroo Enclosure by White Arkitekter
Another modern addition to the Copenhagen Zoo is this cylindrical house for Tasmanian kangaroos by White Arkitekter, which allows visitors to enter the kangaroos’ enclosure without stressing the animals. Part of the enclosure is for the kangaroos themselves, with a heated concrete floor to keep them warm in winter. The slatted timber doors can be folded back to open parts of the space to the wider enclosure, while others remain closed so shy kangaroos can have their privacy.