Bjarke Ingels has designed a zoo which reverses the roles of the tourist and those held captive: the animals will now roam free while humans will be hidden from view and enclosed. His Givskud “Zootopia” is a 300-acre environment where the animals roam freely from tanks and cages, while tourists and visitors observe them while being hidden from view; buried beneath the ground or obscured inside piles of logs.
Visitors will be able to observe lions from a bunker that is buried beneath a hill and they’ll be able to watch the pandas through a bamboo screen. Similarly, they will be able to observe bears from a little house hidden in a stack of tree-trunks, and witness giraffes through holes cut into the hillside.
“Architects’ greatest and most important task is to … make sure that our cities offer a generous framework for different people – from different backgrounds, economy, gender, culture, education and age – so they can live together in harmony,… Nowhere is this challenge more acrimonious than in a zoo.” says the Bjarke Ingels Group, aka BIG.
Their efforts are revolutionary not only in regard to zoos, but also to architectural design in general. They propose a creative plan that will integrate and hide the buildings, which people will view animals from, as much as possible into the landscape of the zoo. The proposed scheme also flips the traditional model of public concourse surrounding limited enclosures. Instead, this zoo plan will channel visitors into a central circular piazza, from here they will be able to venture into the wilds.
Visitors will be able to explore the three themed continents along snaking routes. Further expansion will also allow visitors to be able to go floating along a winding river through Asia, go cycling across the African savannah, or flying above America. The visitors won’t disturb the wildlife because they will be housed in little mirrored pods, with the purpose of minimizing animal exposure to humans (blocking human smells and figure).
The design plan reads a lot like a car-free safari and is a decent attempt to limit the human influence on the lives of the animals in order to create a more stress-free environment. However, there are still several variables which need to be considered and worked-out before tourists could visit and reasonably feel safe traveling through the park. Bjarke Ingels group and the Givskud Zoo in Denmark plan to open Zootopia in the year 2019.