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Zoo buildings

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Penguin Pool, London Zoo, Regent's Park, London: the pair of cantilvered ramps

RIBA28114
Lubetkin Drake & Tecton
NOTES: This was Tecton's second commission for the Royal Zoological Society, the site consisting of a series of derelict ponds and a paddock. A dramatic design was needed to show off the antics of the penguins and this was achieved by two cantilevered ramps spiralling around one another without any intermediate support. The surrounding trees were kept and a cover provided around part of the elliptical structure to protect the penguins from the sun. The flat paths were coated with plastic rubber, the steps were of slate and the concrete ramps were kept wet by a revolving fountain. The structure was allowed under a clause in the London Building Act which exempted from the regulations buildings under a certain size which were not destined for human habitation and which were more than 30 ft from any other building. The pool had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair after the Royal Zoological Society encountered strong opposition to its plans for major alterations in 1951. The pool was listed in 1970 and restored in 1988. The executive architects were Lubetkin and Drake.

Elephant House, Whipsnade Zoo

RIBA28147
Lubetkin & Tecton
NOTES: Each of the four Indian elephants was allotted a separate circular unit. The use of top lighting and continuous long windows which could be closed in the winter combined the need for public display with the comfort of the animals. The buildings are relatively small because it was only intended that young elephants should be housed at Whipsnade, the older ones remaining in London. However, larger elephants replaced the original inmates and the Zoo authorities accordingly made some alterations to the buildings.

Restaurant extension, Whipsnade Zoo, seen from the paddock and gardens

RIBA28148
Lubetkin & Tecton
NOTES: This project was an extension to the 18th century farmhouse that had been used as a restaurant and represents an attempt to demonstrate that a modernist solution can blend harmoniously with old buildings despite the differences in form and materials. Glass bricks were employed to highlight the entrance front which anticipates that of the Finsbury Health Centre.

Polar Bear Pit, Dudley Zoo, Dudley Castle: visitors watching the polar bears from the circular terrace

RIBA28681
Lubetkin & Tecton
NOTES: Lubetkin and Tecton adapted a deep natural ravine to provide these three enclosures with the circular polar bear arena situated in the centre ringed by an elevated terrace. This terrace spanned the ravine and afforded excellent viewing facilities for spectators. In addition there were lower viewing areas and the lions and tigers could roam over the various concrete slabs placed at differing levels in the steeply-sided ravine. For the polar bears a diving ramp and an eight-foot deep swimming-pool were provided.

Bear Ravine, Dudley Zoo, Dudley Castle

RIBA28682
Lubetkin & Tecton

The menagerie, Horton Park, Northampton, for the Earl of Halifax: elevation

RIBA29771
Wright, Thomas (1711-1786)
NOTES: This drawing is attributed to James Blackamore. The menagerie was designed for Earl of Halifax, who resided at Horton Hall.

Penguin Pool under construction, London Zoo, Regent's Park, London: Ove Arup standing on the ramp

RIBA30341
Arup, Sir Ove (1895-1988)
NOTES: Ove Arup was the structural engineer.

Giraffe House, Whipsnade Zoo

RIBA34827
Lubetkin & Tecton
NOTES: The construction is of timber-framed lattice between end walls of Fletton brick. A steel section was inserted in each of the walls to take the weight of the tall doors at either end. The original design was greatly modified as the enclosure was erected in a rush by unskilled local labour.

Instructional design for an architectural toy representing an ornamental lion cage, by Anchor Blocks (Anker Richter): conjectural perspective view of the completed model showing visitors to a park or zoo observing a lion-tamer and lions within the cage

RIBA35914
Anchor Blocks
NOTES: The German company Anchor Blocks (Anker Richter, owned by Friedrich Adolf Richter) began producing architectural toy kits known as Anchor Stone Building Sets in 1880. Each set of stackable building blocks was accompanied by instructional plans and designs for the home assembly of the model. This plate was printed in 'Richter's Designs of Architectural Models' and the legend beneath the image is in French.

Snowdon Aviary, London Zoo, Regent's Park, London

RIBA38610
Newby, Frank (1926-2001)

Giraffe House, Whipsnade Zoo: close-up of the curved wall

RIBA42382
Lubetkin & Tecton
NOTES: The construction is of timber-framed lattice between end walls of Fletton brick. A steel section was inserted in each of the walls to take the weight of the tall doors at either end. The original design was greatly modified as the enclosure was erected in a rush by unskilled local labour.
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