Copenhagen Zoo, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, Schønherr Landscape Architects and MOE have collaborated on a new yin and yang-shaped Panda House that resembles the Panda’s natural habitat and creates a peaceful environment for one of the world’s rarest mammals.
The new Panda House is scheduled to open in 2021, just in time for the arrival of the two giant Pandas from Chengdu in China – a gesture of goodwill from the Chinese government following Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark’s visit to the country in 2014. Encompassing a 1,250 m2 indoor site and 1,200 m2 outdoor area, the circular shape fits perfectly between the existing buildings at one of the oldest Zoos in Europe, including the award-winning Elephant House by Norman Foster. The construction is scheduled to commence later this year, once the 150 million DKK construction budget has been secured.
Panda House responds to the species’ main threats to extinction – habitat loss and fragmentation – by providing a safe and contiguous environment that’s also conducive for reproduction.
BIG proposed a circular shape for the design – befitting the site perfectly between existing buildings and enabling the literal yin-yang symbol to create separate enclosures for male and female pandas. The architectural parts of the earth are then lifted from either side of the “yin” and “yang” to form space for stables below ground, simultaneously creating an incline to naturally face the pandas toward the audience.
The Panda House consists of two floors: the ground floor, where access to the interior spaces are connected by a ramp circulation, and the second floor, which can lead to a trip along the rocky slope, through the native Nordic plants and into the dense bamboo forest.
All interior functions are designed to have the lush landscape at eye-level – engaging the visitors’ sense of wildlife and immersion within nature. The ground floor of Panda House also encompasses a restaurant, located between the elephants and the pandas – visitors can dine while observing both animals simultaneously. There is also a shop connected between both animal houses and the Main Square, situated just outside of Panda House.