Foster + Partners has been chosen for a £7.1 million overhaul of Cedric Price’s pioneering 1965 Snowdon Aviary at London Zoo
The practice will transform the Grade II*-listed building, which was recently added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, into a new walk-through colobus monkey enclosure, giving visitors an ‘up-close experience of the stunning primates’.
Conceived by Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon, who studied architecture at Cambridge) and delivered by architect Cedric Price and engineer Frank Newby, the structure next to the Regent’s Canal has four large tetrahedral frames and became Britain’s first walk-through aviary when it opened 51 years ago. It is one of the zoo’s 13 listed structures.
The client, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) described the appointment of Foster + Partners as ‘symbolic’, given Price’s manifest influence on Foster’s work. Director David Field said: ‘It’s fitting that a structure with such a unique history should be given new life by a world-class firm with such a strong heritage.
’Our most ambitious project to date, the new aviary will reflect our decades of animal expertise and delivering innovative visitor experiences.’
He added: ‘London Zoo has a long history of leading the way in architecture and design and has many listed buildings that have stood the test of time.’
Norman Foster said: ‘The Snowdon Aviary [is] a rare example of a completed work by Cedric Price. I have a particular personal affection for it as it shows most strongly the influence of our mutual friend and mentor Buckminster Fuller.
‘The redevelopment of the aviary is a unique opportunity to preserve this exceptional structure and the legacy of pioneering architecture at ZSL London Zoo. It will be a great privilege to be able to contribute to the tradition of contemporary architectural additions at one of London’s most cherished institutions.’
Foster + Partners was selected following a tender process in accordance with Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) rules – the scheme secured a £301,000 first stage lottery grant to carry out the initial research and planning phase for modernising the aviary.
The ZSL now has to raise £2.2 million in match-funding so it can begin renovating the aviary in January 2018, ready to open in summer 2019, and will make a further HLF application for a full grant of £4.9 million once the design plans are in place.
London zoo aviary tony higsett flickr
Source: Tony Hisgett / Flickr
Postscript - statement from ZSL London Zoo
The birds currently housed in the Snowdon Aviary will be rehoused in other existing aviaries at ZSL London Zoo, or transferred to other Zoos.
There are no plans for a new aviary at this stage.