Target: Nanna Gyldholm Møller, Zootopia Project Leader with Bjarke Ingels Group
Goal: Praise the firm’s revolutionary redesign of Denmark’s famous Givskud Zoo, intended to provide more humane habitats for animals while improving the experience for zoo visitors
Humans gain a unique and potentially invaluable opportunity to better understand and empathize with animals when they visit zoos, and many species have been brought back from the edge of extinction with help from zoo breeding programs. Yet much critique of zoos has been aimed at their prison-like atmosphere, confining animals to tight spaces wholly unlike their natural habitats. A Danish architecture firm has taken on the challenge of balancing animals’ wellbeing with the needs of visitors with its proposed redesign of Denmark’s Givskud Zoo. If the preliminary work is any indication, the project could transform how humans and animals interact in captivity.
The firm, called Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) after its lead architect of the same name, has dubbed the groundbreaking zoological garden design “Zootopia.” BIG’s website describes a bold purpose: “It is our dream–with Givskud–to create the best possible and the freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors.” The potential for their work goes even farther, claims the firm. Staff are excited to “both enhance the quality of life for the animals as well as the keepers and guests,” and to “discover ideas and opportunities that we will be able to transfer back into the urban jungle. Who knows perhaps a rhino can teach us something about how we live–or could live in the future?”
Just how will BIG accomplish such a transformation? According to Designboom, “the complex’s building elements are integrated with the landscape, to conceal their appearance to the animals while distinctly fitting to the individual species.” Realizing this vision will be a challenge, but world-renowned Bjarke Ingels and BIG are tackling it head-on. Applaud the firm for its revolutionary thinking, and for making zoo animals’ wellbeing a design priority.
Dear Ms. Møller,
Your firm’s proposed redesign of Givskud Zoo looks promising on so many levels. Zoo visitors would benefit from an unorthodox experience, less invasive and more part of the landscape than is possible in traditional zoos. But more importantly, this design ethic focuses on what’s best for the animals themselves. Tailoring habitats to more closely resemble the creatures’ free-roaming wild environments can provide them with a more natural and less stressful existence.
I look forward to watching as this project moves forward. Thank you for seeking to balance architectural innovation and an enhanced visitor experience with increased quality of life for the zoo animals themselves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Givskud Zoo via Wikimedia Commons