Due to increasing requirements with regard to how animals are kept at zoos and the resultant breeding success, as well as visitors’ wishes to have a more interactive experience of nature, several new elephant enclosures have been built at zoos across Europe since the 1990s. Construction of one of these enclosures, the Kaeng Krachen Elephant Park at the Zurich Zoo, was completed in 2014. The zoo’s desire was not to build the biggest enclosure, but the best. For this reason, an international, two-stage competition was held in 2008, which was won by Lorenz Eugster Landscape Architects together with Markus Schietsch Architects and Walt + Galmarini civil engineers.
The new enclosure is integrated into the surrounding mixed deciduous Züribergwald forest. Additional new vegetation conjures up associations with the rainforests of northern Thailand. When visitors approach the enclosure through the forest they are provided with views of a dried-up riverbed, which the elephants share with blackbucks, and the vaulted wooden roof shell of the elephant house. The atmosphere of the tropical plantings on the inside of the building is continued in the interim areas through the use of plants that will also survive Swiss climatic conditions, i.e. plants that will thrive both with and without a winter dormancy period.
Photos: Jean-Luc Grossmann
Read the full article in Topos 92 – Landscape Identity