Copenhagen Zoo and BIG unveil yin yang-shaped panda habitat

The new habitat will sit between two existing buildings, including the Elephant House designed by Norman Foster.

March 29, 2017 |

Rendering courtesy of BIG

In preparation for its newest guests, Copenhagen Zoo enlisted the help of Bjarke Ingels Group, Schønherr Landscape Architects, and MOE to create a welcoming habitat.

The guests in question are two pandas from Chengdu, China being sent to Denmark as a gesture of goodwill from the Chinese government after the Queen of Denmark’s visit in 2014.

The Panda House will encompass a 1,250-sm indoor site and a 1,200-sm outdoor area and sit between two existing buildings, including the Elephant House designed by Norman Foster. The habitat will take on a circular shape and is designed to make the humans feel like the visitors rather than the other way around.

The new habitat consists of two levels. On the ground floor, panda access to the interior spaces is connected by a ramp. For visitors, all interior functions on the ground floor are designed to have the landscape at eye-level in order to immerse them in the natural landscape. A restaurant will be located on the ground floor, as well, between the new Panda House and the Elephant House. Guests will be able to eat while viewing both animals simultaneously.


Rendering courtesy of BIG.


For the pandas, the upper level leads to a walk along a rocky slope through native Nordic plants and into a dense bamboo forest. In addition to the bamboo forest, the enclosure also provides a “mist forest”. The pandas will be able to move between these forests according to temperature and season.

Both ends of the habitat, which from above looks like a large yin yang symbol, are raised to allow direct views of the pandas. The building is also designed to give visitors unique insight into the work of the zookeepers.

“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,” says Bjarke Ingels in a press release. “The curvy lines are undulating in section to create the necessary separation between him and her - as well as between them and us.”

Construction is scheduled to begin later in 2017 after the $21.5 million construction budget has been secured.


Rendering courtesy of BIG.


Rendering courtesy of BIG.

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