Zoo, Antwerpen, Belgium

By purchasing and demolishing the surrounding houses, the City Zoo of Antwerp is able to expand its area by more than 10%. The aim of the competition design is to establish the major spatial changes and broad lines of development for the whole of the zoo’s eastern flank. The plan includes landscaping, animal houses for okapis, large and small apes, giraffes and elephants, and also a children’s pavilion, visitors facilities, an office building, an entrance square, a restaurant, a shop and an orangery. Certain buildings and activities will also be visible or accessible from the street.
Client
KMDA vzw (RZSA Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp)
Architects
Robbrecht en Daem architecten
Program
Masterplan, housing for animals, children’s pavilion, visitors facilities, office building, entrance square, restaurant and shop
Location
Antwerpen, Belgium
Date
2005–2009
Status
Masterplan
Floor Surface
10.000 m2
Team
Paul Robbrecht, Hilde Daem, Johannes Robbrecht, Sofie Deboutte, Bert Haerynck, Kobe Van Praet
Structural Engineering
BAS (Dirk Jaspaert)
Services Engineering
Henk Pijpaert Engineering
Landscape
Ontwerpbureau Pauwels
Restoration
Callebaut Architecten

The Zoo - Introduction to the competition proposal

The Zoo like a canyon, like an oasis within the city. An island.

The garden as a landscape, like a park, like a theatre. Orchestrated. Staged. The garden wants to be the world, without being part of it. The zoo wants to be a collection of worlds, the beds are worlds. Biotopes, always adapted to their inhabitants.

Rudimentary, stripped of all frills.

The Perfection of the Canyon. The wall. 
The Walled Garden. The Garden of Eden. The urban oasis.
The wall as a decor, as a gallery. In the wall. Secret spaces.
The wall as a completion of the canyon.

The wall aims to strengthen the zoo as an “urban island”. The city as an archipelago of squares, churches, quays, a station and a zoo. Each with their own identity, each with their own rules. In that sense, it is impossible to talk about the zoo without talking about the city. The city survives on its islands.

Microculture. Microbiotope. The city with the quip of 'the uncontrollable jungle in relation to the directed garden. ‘Here’ versus ‘there’. Outside are the monsters. Inside are the animals. The zoo aims to be both Noah's Ark and Arcadia.

Lobs are teasers. Limbo. We're not quite there yet. Not yet.

Voyeurism, Freakshow, Observation, Study, Information. Everything as Entertainment.


Johannes Robbrecht
November 30, 2006