Once the exhibits $29 million budget has been secured, the designs circular shape will sit between the zoo’s existing buildings, including the distinctive elephant house designed by Norman Foster.
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. The Yin and Yang circular design of the scheme allows guests to feel as if they are visitors to the pandas’ home. In addition, the design apparently attempts to create ideal mating conditions for the finicky pandas.
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 to delight visitors and into the dense bamboo forest to the delight of the inhabitants. 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.
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.
“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. Located in the centre 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,” explains Bjarke Ingels
“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,” adds Steffen Stræde, Copenhagen zoo director.