BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled plans for a yin and yang-shaped Panda House for Copenhagen Zoo. The design of the new Panda House begins with a circular shape, formed by the surrounding existing facilities at the intersection of multiple walkways. Panda House is designed to feel like humans are the visitors in the Pandas’ home, rather than Pandas being the exotic guests from faraway lands.
The habitat forms the freest and most naturalistic possible environment for their lives and relationship with each other, providing the freedom to roam about and the ideal conditions to mate – one of the major challenges facing Pandas from becoming endangered.
“Architecture is like portraiture. To design a home for someone is like capturing their essence, their character and personality in built form. 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,” Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.
Panda House responds to the species’ main threats to extinction – habitat loss and fragmentation by providing a safe and contiguous environment that’s also conducive for reproduction.
The design team proposed a circular shape for the design – befitting the site perfectly between existing buildings and enabling the literal yin-yang symbol to create separate enclosures for male and female pandas. The architectural parts of the earth are then lifted from either side of the “yin” and “yang” to form space for stables belowground, simultaneously creating an incline to naturally face the pandas toward the audience.
The Panda House consists of two floors: the ground floor, where access to the interior spaces are connected by a ramp circulation, and the second floor, which can lead to a trip along the rocky slope, through the native Nordic plants and into the dense bamboo forest.
All interior functions are designed to have the lush landscape at eye-level – engaging the visitors’ sense of wildlife and immersion within nature. The ground floor of Panda House also encompasses a restaurant, located between the elephants and the pandas – visitors can dine while observing both animals simultaneously. There is also a shop connected between both animal houses and the Main Square, situated just outside of Panda House.
all images courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group