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Top 10: Architecture for pets - part two

As it is revealed that Brad Pitt designed a £50,000 gerbil cage for his children, the Architects’ Journal selects the ten projects that best house our animal friends, from Cooper Cromar’s Budongo Trail to Lord Snowdon’s Aviary

5. Giraffe House, Rotterdam by Lam Architects

The Giraffe House at Rotterdam Zoo sets a sustainable benchmark for animal enclosures. Designed by LAM Architects the building was opened in June 2009.

The welfare of the animals and adhering to a ‘Cradle to Cradle’ design philosophy were principal factors in designing the building. Most of the materials used in construction were recycled, rainwater collected is used to water nearby plants, the building does not use fossil fuels and is entirely naturally ventilated. This holistic approach runs from the design of the building through to the breeding program of the giraffes; the New Zoo has left behind Barnum-style exhibition and spectacle for a 21st-century paradigm of conservation and education.

The architects had to consider that giraffes, uniquely among users of buildings, look down on almost all of their environment - a permanently elevated perspective. They implemented ‘cuddle-walls’ on which the giraffes can warm themselves and all surfaces within licking range are constructed from non-toxic materials to prevent poisoning from curious tongues.


4. Americana Dog and Cat Resort – Las Vegas

‘Luxury Hotels aren’t just for people’

The Americana dog and cat resort has been providing 24-hour supervision and pampering of pooches and moggies for more than five years. The animals holiday in ‘cage-free suites’ - room service available from 5.30am daily - and have access to an indoor play-park (pictured above). After dinner the animals have some time with a human ‘play-pal’ before being returned to their suite for a well-earned sleep.

Whilst visitors to the ‘city of sin’ chase their dreams whilst deprived of fresh air and natural sunlight, the resort caters for every whim and fancy a dog could have – yellow fire hydrants on patches of turf, a collection of balls to chase and furniture to chew.


3. Snowdon Aviary, London by Lord Snowdon et al

Built in 1964 the Snowdon aviary is one of precious few Cedric Price buildings to be realised. What is still an intriguing structure - could you call it a building? - provides a place for the feathered residents to fly unobstructed and allows full exposure to the elements. The steel tension cables, and square edged steel tubes creep into view above the adjacent trees providing a bizarre amalgamation of the natural and man-made. Traditional ornamental birdcages with just one perch and feeder appear unfairly restrictive when compared to the vast expanse of the Snowdon aviary.

Using structure and canopy sparingly the aviary echoed the engineering style of the Skylon that had adorned the banks of the Thames as part of the Festival of Britain 10 years earlier. The futuristic birdhouse was recommended for listing in 1996 – ironic seeing that Price believed that his buildings need not be permanent.


2 . The Kuroshio Sea, Okinawa by Yukifasa Kokumba

The Kuroshio Sea is the world’s second-largest fish tank and holds 1,981,290 gallons of water (the average daily water usage for 20,000 British homes). The tank is home to whale sharks and manta rays as well as schools of yellow-fin tuna and bonitos. The diversity of species in the wonderful video above underlines the absurdity of the aquarium: would we put lions, polar bears and cobras in the same enclosure simply because they were land animals?

The spectacle is enhanced by the acrylic glass panel that measures 8.2m by 22.5m, fabricated from 15 sheets of 7-ply acrylic stuck together with some ominous sounding ‘secret glue’. The vastness of the ocean is condensed into a comparably tiny pool which tested the limits of human design and engineering, and now presents a snapshot of two-thirds of our planet’s habitat in one succinct frame.


1. Noah’s Ark, Turkey by Noah

This project secures top spot as the ultimate in pet architecture: it housed seven mating pairs of every ‘bird, animal and creature that moves along the ground’. It also continues to inspire architects, recently mimicked in the Ark, Hammersmith by Ralph Erskine and the Ark Library by Studioworks.

Measuring 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high the Ark was the largest sea going vessel until 1884 when surpassed by the Italian liner Eturia.

Noah pretty much invented the notion of conservation with this three-storey cypress wood vessel. Nearly 500 years old when he received the commission, Noah completed the intensive construction task over 100 years to an immovable deadline using locally-sourced materials. In doing so he pioneered the use of natural ventilation, used on the upper deck, and implemented rainwater collection and reuse.


Readers' comments (2)

  • AJ - why don't you address some of the serious issues facing architects in 2009 ? Workloads, registration, public perception, diminishing roles, planning, GLA the future ?

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  • Peter, mate...get a grip!

    The AJ has been cpovering the recession like other industry publications but there is only so much that a journal can do...? Are we all to wallow in self pity (come to think of it Architects are expergt at that...)

    I wasnt particularily entharlled by the article...but its worthy for a fridfay afternoon skiving in the office none-the-less!

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