Zoo aesthetics used to edge toward Disneyland-like recreations of natural environs, or even less realistic--and more tragic--listless beasts caged behind bars. The next wave, however, are taking ultra-modern cues from a future where these habitats are anything but old fashioned. The Danish Henning Larsen Architects, in collaboration with the Dutch Van Der Berg Groep, recently won a competition to complete another zoo in Emmen, the Netherlands (its existing Noorder Dierenpark has been in operation since 1935). Based on the renderings, it’s a sleek and sprawling entryway into the fantastical world of exotic fauna.
Beneath a sweeping concrete silhouette meant to mimic the curve of an animal’s back, 16,000-square-feet of largely glass-lined or open-air, naturally lit space will welcome visitors (who can walk to the location from the city’s center). It’s designed to function as a theater, both literally--hosting live events on two main stages--and figuratively, a bit like an expansive, large-scale version of entering through the iconic gates of Jurassic Park.
If you’re eager to experience Emmen’s latest attraction, it’ll be another three years until it opens in 2015. In the meantime, have a look at the work of French firm Beckmann N’Thépé, who’s imagined slick sites in Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and more.