Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Client: Prague Zoo
The form of the new Gorilla Pavilion was driven by the specific functional and operational requirements established by the brief and also by the building’s leafy surroundings.
The selected organic shape and the specific selection of natural materials respond to the surrounding landscape and also to the proposal’s function itself, which is primarily a presentation of lowland gorillas and their environment.
The building is situated in a valley and is particularly visible from above. The predominant feature is the sedum roof, which blends visually with the sloping terrain to the north and partially covers the delivery yard from the visitors view. The main views from the west remain undisturbed due to the discreet design of the new structure, respecting Sklenárka’s importance as a heritage homestead.
The roof structure features a double-curved timber lamella roof shell, aiding its spanning capability and structural efficiency. It spans between internal column lines and perimeter support walls and the shape was developed to maintain the required for minimum ceiling heights as set out in the brief.
The edges of the green roof merge with a timber canopy, keeping the integrity of the roof structure’s geometry and providing a seamless transition between the solid and the external areas. The canopy serves as shading for both the visitors’ areas to the south and to the west and the external enclosures of the gorillas.
The bifurcating tree-like columns branch off at varying heights, supporting a sequence of roof nodes and a similar column shape supports the pedestrian bridge connecting the new pavilion with the rest of the zoo structures to the south of the main road.
The roof bays of 3x3m can be filled with various prefabricated modules according to specific need. The modules consist of several types of skylights or fully green panels to provide maximum flexibility. The shape, position and orientation of skylights respond to the climatic conditions of the site. Their geometry allows for higher heat gains in winter while reducing direct sunlight in summer.
The openable windows are located in the upper areas of the roof, facilitating natural ventilation based on the chimney effect. The external facades are rationally ordered, with the selection of materials responding to adjacent areas. The south facade is fully glazed, welcoming visitors arriving at the entrance gate. Shading is provided by the canopy structure with climbing greenery. The remaining facades, facing the exhibition areas or loading bay, are concrete and partially covered with artificial rock.