It is no secret that there is enormous potential in zoos. They offer recreation, education and increase the environmental awareness among city dwellers. This especially applies to the Antwerp Zoo, which is located directly in the city centre. With its ten hectares, it is one of the few large green areas of its vicinity. Established in 1843, one of the world’s oldest animal parks now offers a new attraction: a restaurant in the midst of the animals, designed by Studio Farris Architects.
Probably the most outstanding feature of the animal park is its location. Situated right next to the Central Station, between the famous Antwerp Diamond District and densely populated residential areas, the zoo is in a very prominent position. Thus, it is a very valuable area, which developments affects many people who live or work nearby. When Studio Farris Architects got the assignment to design new shelters for buffalos und apes, an aviary and a restaurant, they had to take the unique environment of the Antwerp Zoo into consideration.
Of course, a restaurant in an animal park is nothing unusual – but in this location it is. Gastronomy in such urban context will not only serve zoo visitors. It will also be a special restaurant in the inner city of Antwerp. The building itself forms the edge of the eastern border of the area, facing a densely populated surrounding. The structure consists of glass facing the inner space and clinker bricks. Through the lightweight and diaphanous character of the building, the visitors can experience an exotic dinner between buffalos, apes and birds in their natural habitat. Thanks to a street façade which is punctured by a system of openings, even passers-by have the chance to take a look at the savannah. Completed in June 2017, the new facilities in the Antwerp Zoo have recorded increasing visitor numbers, the public being especially enthusiastic about their unusual zoo experience.