A healthy habitat for elephants
Copenhagen Zoo, with almost 1.2 million visitors per year, is one of the most visited cultural institution in Denmark. It houses over 3,000 animals including 264 exciting and unique species. One of its most popular inhabitants includes its Asian elephants, attracting visitors from all corners of the earth. However, as the species became increasingly endangered, with its population having dropped 50% over the last three generations, the need for extraordinary care became apparent.
The client wanted to create a new Elephant House that would provide a natural, relaxed and stimulating living environment to ensure the safety and happiness of its herds.
BuroHappold were tasked to engineer better spaces for the elephants, where visitors could get up close to observe and enjoy the animals, with minimal intrusion. With this in consideration, it was important for our team to ensure that the elephants were in an environment that allowed them to replicate their natural behaviour – without this the animals could face potentially life threatening circumstances.
Working closely alongside the architects, our team helped to create a new Elephant House consisting of two covered enclosures and two separate, outdoor areas for males and females. We engineered steel-framed lightweight, glazed domes to provide natural light and ventilation for the animals, allowing them to correctly understand and act within their new living environment. The domes were carefully designed to appear to be floating on their bearings, preventing the application of horizontal thrust to the supporting superstructure below. The enclosures were embedded into the landscape and deeply set into the ground, ensuring excellent insulation, while reducing the building’s physical impact on the surrounding environment.
Circling the domes, is a viewing terrace, where visitors can experience the elephants inside the building or roaming around the landscape. In addition to this, visitors can view the enclosures via a ramped, internal promenade, which features an educational exhibition space.
Every aspect of the new enclosure design had been informed by research into the behavioural patterns of elephants. A detailed study was also undertaken to identify efficient strategies to reduce disposal problems. The result of this, is that our team was able to create a carefully considered building that sets new standards in zoological design.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply