This building was planned to accommodate African elephants with giraffes and zebras in a shared savannah landscape. The natural topography on the southern edge of Zurich Zoo has been exaggerated to create a dramatic valley landscape carved into the dense woodland.
Visitors enter above a waterfall and the river flowing from this point remains the orientating device as one navigates a network of pathways providing alternating glimpses through the dense planting of the various animal groups.
A filigree ETFE roof spans over this landscape and maintains the necessary climate beneath. A continuous ring-beam contains the kidney-shaped roof of two crossing systems of shallow arched beams with a maximum span of fifty metres. The upper layer of beams carry the EFTE cushions which stretch across the full roof-span in a single unit, thereby providing a cost-effective roof construction. The resultant organic form generates a relaxed artificial sky for the space beneath without exceeding the height restrictions of the brief. The animal husbandry and research facilities are accommodated in an adjacent building. The project was short-listed in the initial design competition and developed further through a number of tender stages before being placed second in the competition.