bjarke ingels group has unveiled plans for a yin and yang-shaped panda house at copenhagen zoo, which closely resembles the rare mammal’s natural habitat. scheduled to open in 2018 — in time for the arrival of two giant pandas from china — the scheme’s circular shape fits between the zoo’s existing buildings, including the distinctive elephant house designed by norman foster. construction is scheduled to get underway later this year, once the project’s 150 million DKK (approx. 22 million USD) budget has been secured.

BIG panda house
all images courtesy of bjarke ingels group

 

 

the design, which BIG developed alongside schønherr landscape architects and MOE, starts with a circular shape, formed by the surrounding facilities at the intersection of multiple walkways. rather than the pandas being the guests of the zoo, the scheme has been designed to make humans feel as if they are visitors in the pandas’ home. importantly, the layout and configuration seek to create ideal mating conditions.

BIG panda house
the yin and yang-shaped panda house will open at copenhagen zoo in 2018

 

 

the ground floor of the panda house provides access to interior spaces — including a restaurant — via a continuous ramp. the upper level comprises an elevated walkway that leads through the native nordic plants and into the dense bamboo forest. the terrain has been lifted at both ends of the yin and yang symbol — a gesture that forms an undulating landscape with direct views into the panda’s habitat.

BIG panda house
the scheme closely resembles the rare mammal’s natural habitat

 

 

the vegetation mimics the natural environment that pandas are accustomed to, ensuring that the animals have access to both shade and foliage. the two separate environments — a dense and lush ‘mist forest’ and a light green bamboo forest — allow pandas to relocate according to season and temperature, just as they do in the wild.

BIG panda house
the scheme’s circular shape fits between the zoo’s existing buildings

 

 

to design a home for someone is like capturing their essence, their character and personality in built form,’ explains bjarke ingels, founding partner at BIG. ‘in the case of the two great pandas, their unique solitary nature requires two similar but separate habitats — one for her and one for him. the habitat is formed like a giant yin and yang symbol, two halves: the male and the female, complete each other to form a single circular whole. the curvy lines are undulating in section to create the necessary separation between him and her — as well as between them and us. located at the heart of the park, we have made the entire enclosure accessible from 360 degrees, turning the two pandas into the new rotation point for copenhagen zoo.’

BIG panda house
interior spaces include a restaurant

 

 

copenhagen zoo’s idea-driven organization was key in defining the team we wanted to work with on the new panda house project,’ adds steffen stræde, zoo director at copenhagen zoo. ‘it’s part of our DNA to let everyone from zookeepers, to gardeners and vets, influence the design and function of the facilities to secure the well-being of our animals. the team understood our approach and successfully integrated it into their design process to create a world-class home for these adored pandas.’

BIG panda house
the scheme has been designed to make humans feel as if they are visitors in the pandas’ home

BIG panda house
the upper level features an elevated walkway that leads through the vegetation

 

 

project info:

 

name: panda house
status: in progress
size: 2,450 sqm / 26,372 sqf
project type: commission
client: copenhagen zoo
collaborators: schønherr, MOE
location: copenhagen, denmark

 

project team
partner in charge: bjarke ingels, david zahle
project leaders: nanna gyldholm møller, ole elkjær-larsen, kamilla heskje
team: maja czesnik, pawel bussold, jinseok jang, gökce günbulut, christian lopez, luca senise, høgni laksáfoss, sofia sofianou, carlos soria, victor bejenaru, claus rytter bruun de neergaard, gabrielé ubareviciute, eskild schack pedersen, richard howis, tore banke, tobias hjortdal, joos jerne, hanne halvorsen, tommy bjørnstrup, joanna plizga

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