A Zoo Where Animals Run Free and Humans Are Confined

by Kimberly Seto on August 6, 2014


Renderings of Zootopia, Givskud, Denmark, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (all images courtesy BIG)

Imagine a zoo where animals are free to roam while humans quietly observe. Danish architects BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) set out to make this a reality with their plan for redesigning Zootopia, a zoo in the city of Givskud. Far from “traditional” zoos where the cages set the distinction between man and beast, BIG’s plan is to create an atmosphere that is experiential to both animals and humans. The innovative project sets out to interweave the viewing areas and the animals’ homes into one coexisting landscape. Each animal habitat will replicate the creatures’ natural surroundings while allowing for the inclusion of hidden viewing structures.140729-zootopia-webshow-short3_original The zoo will be divided into three adjoining areas: America, Africa, and Asia. Each location is accessible from routes stemming from the visitor center, where patrons can explore the differently themed continents by hiking, sailing, or flying inside mirrored transportation pods. By creating non-intrusive environments, BIG’s hope is that the experience will be mutually beneficial, writing in their project statement: “Who knows [sic] perhaps a rhino could teach us something about how we live — or could live in the future?” 140729-zootopia-webshow-28-322_original 140729-zootopia-webshow-28-324_original 140729-zootopia-webshow-28-325_original 140729-zootopia-webshow-28-323_original
Bjarke Ingels Group’s Zootopia (Givskud, Denmark) is expected to be completed in 2019.

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  • Atahualpa

    Wait a second. How curious. A special zoo in Northern Europe
    in which, “The zoo will be divided into three
    adjoining areas: America, Africa, and Asia.” Zoos, botanical gardens and
    world fairs are a hallmark of the colonial imaginary and the processes of
    constructing subjectivities among the dominant that would set lands, bodies and
    “nature” in the colonized world apart from those of the dominating so-called
    civilized world. This smacks of racism to me, and doesn’t seem to challenge at
    all the human/animal, culture/nature binary that so defines our present
    historical moment. Is that crazy? How interesting that the unquestioned viewing
    subject constructing this viewscape/landscape/socialscape happens to inhabit a
    white, male, and Northern European world…

  • college student

    I fail to see in what ways this zoo is racist…Also I fail to see why the fact that the designer of a zoo in Denmark is white is “interesting”. I actually find it incredibly uninteresting.

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