The elephant's house in Copenhagen Zoo
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Menagerie for the masses

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Copenhagen Zoo opened on 20 September 1859. Ornithologist Niels Kjærbølling had been granted unrestricted use of the Princess Wilhelmine Gardens at Valby Bakke. He exhibited stuffed birds and eagles, hens, ducks, owls, rabbits, a fox, a seal in a bath tub and a…

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Elephants with their own sky

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Time / Periode 2008
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The Elephant House from 2008 is one of the celebrated British architect Sir Norman Foster's smallest projects, but still one of his most famous. The joint ambition for Foster and Copenhagen Zoo was to give the elephants the best possible conditions. The architecture was to provide the setting for their lives, but also for a breeding programme that will help to save these endangered animals from extinction. Foster's key was research; in fact, he became so intrigued by elephants that he still visits Africa with his wife to watch them. The architect's sensitivity to the behaviour and habitat of elephants in the wild is reflected throughout the building, not least in the striking glass roofdomes that admit the life-giving light that is essential not only for humans but all living creatures. Elephants live under open sky, which is why Foster wanted to give them a piece of the sky – their very own sky! The glass domes are constructed and painted in such a way that the elephants sense the play of light and shadow that would occur in their natural setting. The Elephant House is complemented by the adjoining paddock where the Danish landscape architect Stig L. Andersson has given the elephants surroundings reminiscent of a dried flood plain.

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Elephants with their own sky

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