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Foster + Partners to add ‘modular’ monkey dens to Snowdon Aviary overhaul


Foster + Partners has updated its plans for the £9.7 million overhaul of the Snowdon Aviary at London Zoo to include a series of modular dens for breeding monkeys

The practice won approval in 2017 for its plans to transform the Grade II*-listed building, co-designed by architect Cedric Price and the Earl of Snowdon in 1965, into a home for the zoo’s troop of colobus monkeys.

But now the zoo has submitted an updated set of plans to Westminster Council for the ‘future-proofing’ of the structure including indoor dens for the primates with a modular design.

The pod structures have been specially designed to create quiet private areas for certain groups such as females and their newborns.

Colobus monkeys, distinguished by their black coats with white fringes, long tails and lack of thumbs, are part of a European breeding programme, which means zoos work collaboratively to ensure a genetically diverse and healthy backup population for the species. 

According to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which runs the zoo, the modular series of indoor dens means their home can grow and adapt alongside them. 

Foster + Partners' designs for the modular monkey dens in Snowdon's Aviary (on right)

Foster + Partners’ designs for the modular monkey dens in Snowdon’s Aviary (on right)

Foster + Partners’ designs for the modular monkey dens in Snowdon’s Aviary (on right)

The wider scheme includes a soaring walk-through monkey enclosure, due to open in 2021, which will give visitors a close-up experience of the monkeys. 

It also includes restoration work to the structure, which was added to Historic England’s ‘at-risk’ list in 2016 because it urgently needed repair.

ZSL’s managing director of zoos and engagement, Rich Stortonk, said: ‘ZSL London Zoo is excited to submit these updated plans for the redesign of the landmark Snowdon Aviary, which reflect our decades of animal expertise and delivering awe-inspiring visitor experiences. 

‘The makeover has always been an ambitious project, which is only right for such an iconic structure. As planning has progressed and we prepare to break ground later this year, we are refreshing the plans to future-proof the building so that it can adapt to the changing needs of our colobus troop over time.’

The updated plans also include a new community space in the complex, to be used for educational events, community groups and local residents.

The Snowdon Aviary opened in 1965 as the first walk-through aviary in the UK. It has an aluminium and steel structure which supports a web of steel cables in constant tension, covered by a mesh of netting.

ZSL has been granted £4.9 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to complete the scheme.

London Zoo aviary (ZSL) by Lord Snowdon, Cedric Price and Frank Newby

London Zoo aviary (ZSL) by Lord Snowdon, Cedric Price and Frank Newby

London Zoo aviary (ZSL) by Lord Snowdon, Cedric Price and Frank Newby



Readers' comments (2)

  • Is the aviary currently derelict?
    What happened (or is to happen) to the birds?

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  • Outrageous. Leave this masterwork alone. Don't architects have any scruples or is it just profit that motivates.

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