This beautiful natural landscape populated by elephants, giraffes, and bears looks like utopia, right? Think again - it's Zootopia, a kinder, gentler zoo designed by Bjarke Ingels Group for Denmark. The new zoo will allow animals to be animals in spaces that mirror their natural habitats, and humans can wander amongst them while safely observing. Let's just hope it doesn't turn into a Jurassic Park scenario!
Zoos sometimes get a bad rap, but they are still wildly popular and a fascinating way to get up close to animals you would never see otherwise. Enter Zootopia – a kindler, gentler, more human zoo that lets animals roam while humans observe them in new and exciting ways. The zoo’s entrance is conceived as a protected circular courtyard, and the zoo’s environment is built right up to the edges. From here visitors gain entrance, buy tickets, eat, shop, observe animals and decide what direction to head to see more. The park is divided up into three separate zones – Asia, Africa and America, and visitors have different options to move about. You’ll be able to take a boat tour in Asia, a bike ride through Africa or a sky ride through America to get up-close views of the animals in their habitats.
Rather than establishing separate building enclosures for the animals, their new homes are built into the site and inspired by their natural habitat. The lion’s den is built into a hill under a green-roofed enclosure; pandas live in bamboo cottages, bears hibernate in log huts, and elephants reside in rice fields. BIG worked with their client Givskud Zoo to create “the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors.”
There are even plans for a 4km-long hike throughout the zoo to give visitors an on-the-ground look at animals in the urban jungle. We are still curious how that will play out, as it seems a bit questionable to let children roam around with gorillas and bears, but hey – it’s Denmark and they have a strange way with zoos.