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Fosters’ Snowdon Aviary overhaul set for approval

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Westminster Council planning officers have recommended Foster + Partners’ proposed £7 million overhaul of the Snowdon Aviary at London Zoo for approval

Norman Foster’s practice was selected last year to transform the Grade II*-listed building, originally designed by Cedric Price and since added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

If councillors follow the recommendation and grant conditional planning permission to the scheme next week, the structure will become a walk-through colobus monkey enclosure, giving visitors an ‘up-close experience of the stunning primates’.

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) director of client David Field last year described the scheme as ‘our most ambitious project to date’, adding: ‘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…

‘The new aviary will reflect our decades of animal expertise and delivering innovative visitor experiences.’

The City of Westminster director of planning said in the report to councillors ahead of next week’s meeting that the scheme had received the support of the St John’s Wood Society and the St Marylebone Society as well as the London Borough of Camden.

Snowdon Aviary, London Zoo by Lord Snowden, Cedric Price and Frank Newby

Snowdon Aviary, London Zoo by Lord Snowden, Cedric Price and Frank Newby

Source: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

Snowdon Aviary, London Zoo by Lord Snowden, Cedric Price and Frank Newby

But they added: ‘Regent’s Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee, while agreeing to the principle of the renovation of the aviary, has raised objection to the proposal on a number of detailed grounds including the replacement materials to be used in the renovation, the impact of the collection of new buildings proposed around the aviary on the setting of it and on the listed parks and conservation area, as well as the proposed landscaping details.’

The report added: ‘Notwithstanding the objection raised, the proposal is considered to be acceptable subject to conditions and satisfies the relevant Unitary Development Plan and City Plan policies.’

Norman Foster has previously 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.

Working with Kirsten on the Snowden Aviary - a project in Londons zoo from the 1960's - giving it a new life .

A post shared by Norman Robert Foster (@officialnormanfoster) on

‘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 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 zoological society was left to raise £2.2 million in match-funding with a view to begin the renovation in January 2018, ready to open in summer 2019. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I wonder how Price would have felt about this, given his belief in 'building life cycle' and demolition.

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