Apenheul is a unique open-air zoo for primates that rests in a heavily forested area east of Amsterdam. The De St@art (The T@il) was designed for the zoo as a multi-use facility to house a visitors’ center, underground auditorium, offices and an animal treatment center.
The winding building is actually much larger than it appears, as the 300 seat auditorium is tucked below ground to minimize the bulk of the structure. The underground space is still well lit thanks to a bank of skylights that double as a frame for the outdoor pavilion. Daylight is a major theme as most of the southern face is glazed floor to ceiling, and the north side is studded in very interesting pop-out windows.
Acting like a ribcage, the basic structure is made from local larch glulam beams that arch across the building. All wood is either FSC or PEFC certified (a mixed bag, environmental speaking, as PEFC has a very spotty record on tracking and enforcing best forestry practices), and the facility is heated and cooled with an efficient ground source heat pump.
Impressively the building uses concrete core activation to chill and heat the floor, which further saves energy. Using motion active LED lighting, and a soon to be installed solar electric array, the center is slated to become carbon neutral.