What visitors want in a zoo can be pretty different from what the animals themselves want. People want to take selfies of themselves up close and personal with a lion, but the lion probably just wants a nap and some room to roam.
In designing a new expansion of a Danish zoo, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) set out to create "the freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors," according to a project description.
The redesigned Givskud Zoo, a Danish zoo and safari park that first opened in 1969, plays with the relationship between human and animal. Zootopia’s centerpiece, a large, walled plaza-like entrance to the park, keeps people enclosed while the animals roam (relatively) freely outside. Windows and a walkway along the top of the walls allows for observation of the animals in their habitat.
Outlying observation buildings are hidden into the landscape, tucked into hillsides or camouflaged in stacks of logs or bamboo. Renderings also show an aerial tram system and a bubble-like boat ride that moves people through the almost 300-acre park, home to animals like gorillas, wolves, bears, lions, and elephants. This being the cyclist-utopia of Denmark, there’s also a bike safari trail that runs through the zoo, which is divided into three continents—America, Asia, and Africa—as well as a hiking route.
The first phase of the design is scheduled to finish up in 2019, according to the Danish newspaper Vejle Amts Folkeblad.