A Redesigned Zoo Where Humans Stay Hidden Could Be Better for Animals

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

Even the most zoo-friendly amongst us probably harbour mixed feelings about the undeniable psychological and physical toll that captivity takes on animals. The Danish architects at Bjarke Ingels Group think they've designed a better way. A Zootopia, if you will, where humans are usually hidden from animals by grass shelters and mirrored pods.

According to ArchDaily, Ingels and co presented a design for a new master plan of Givskud Zoo, an almost 50-year-old zoo in Denmark, at a press conference today. The design—which it bears mentioning is still very premature—imagines almost 300 acres of zoo divided into continents, which visitors access by a number of ramps, bridges, and tunnels burrowed into the landscape. In some areas, visitors would hide inside hollowed out log piles. In others, shelters would be embedded in grassy hillocks near the animals. At the crux of the park, a wide stone bowl lets them climb up to observe the parkland and access trails through the open territory.

A Redesigned Zoo Where Humans Stay Hidden Could Be Better For Animals

So, how will people survive their treks through dangerous domain? Ingels and the team are floating several ideas—including bikes, which would be outfitted with huge spherical mirror coverings designed to, presumably, make them less conspicuous. Other renderings show these giant marbles hanging from tensioned cables like gondolas above snarling bears. In still other renderings, they bob along the river next to some elephants.

A Redesigned Zoo Where Humans Stay Hidden Could Be Better For Animals

A Redesigned Zoo Where Humans Stay Hidden Could Be Better For Animals

Here's how the design team describes the project on its website:

Architects' greatest and most important task is to design man-made ecosystems – to ensure that our cities and buildings suit the way we want to live. We must make sure that our cities offer a generous framework for different people – from different backgrounds, economy, gender, culture, education and age – so they can live together in harmony while taking into account individual needs as well as the common good. Nowhere is this challenge more acrimonious than in a zoo. It is our dream – with Givskud – to create the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals' lives and relationships with each other and visitors.

It's a fanciful and admirable idea, and we'll know far more about it over the next few days as more information emerges. And it's still quite far away from reality—it's simply an initial master plan for an overhaul of the part that's scheduled to be completed by 2019. But I'd love to hear what you think—is this a better solution? [ArchDaily]