Since its inception in 1934, The Paris Zoological Park has been a proponent of animal protection and is one of the world’s oldest cage-free zoos. The majority of the zoo’s approximately 85 species are endangered, with habitats on the verge of extinction, and so they benefit directly from the zoo’s efforts. The relatively modest zoo is defined by nearly a century of the evolutionary process of the conservation and display of the world’s animals in an urban context and is located in the historic Parc de Vincennes.

“The ultimate pleasure of architecture lies in the most forbidden parts of the architectural act, where limits are perverted, and prohibitions are transgressed.”-Bernard Tschumi.

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Masterplan of the parc zoologique de paris_© Bernard Tschumi Architects

Instead of putting humans and animals against one another, the new zoo’s fundamental architectural idea offers a shared language for both. The visitors’ entrance and the aviaries use the same design principles as the zoo’s aviaries. In the tiny mammal sanctuaries, Tschumi uses the “double-envelope” concept in numerous of his works. Such projects are used all over the zoo to give utility and concealment to a variety of animals. New structures designed to integrate buildings; these constructions are a good essay in the formless into the natural environment covered with a curtain of dynamically formed wooden beams several of the zoo’s new buildings, offering both aesthetic and functional concealment reflecting the separation of aesthetic and functional envelopes in the twenty-first century. The interior envelopes, which contain the thermal insulation, waterproofing, and other functional requirements for the structures, are separate from the “formless” wooden envelopes. The zoo’s latest constructions feature a variety of aviaries as well as a big tropical garden.

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The Gigantic faux mountain Grand Rocher_© Iwan Baan

The approach was fairly dramatic, which was reflected in the vocabulary used to portray the zoo in Paris: plateau was used to depict the areas where the wildlife was visible to people, while logs were used to indicate the areas where they slept. Indeed, the circus has never been far away, with keepers dragging or luring their captives out onto the plateau to ensure that there’s always impressive to watch. The zoo’s scenography was equally dramatic, with a slew of artificial rocks culminating in the 65-meter-high Grand Rocher. The faux mountain, which was hollow beneath its cement covering, provided both sweeping Parisian views and an overhead perspective of the zoo itself, with the animal cages floating like an island in a sea of concrete paths.

For conditions of animal comfort, we wanted much larger spaces, including places where they can curl up and hide as they do in the wild”-Bernard Tschumi.

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The Madagascar and Guyana biozones are housed in a 25-meter-high glasshouse_© Iwan Baan

Five peculiar biozones | Paris Zoological Park

This same Grand Rocher is nearly the sole surviving part of the ancient zoo today. The island cages have been replaced by “biozones,” which are designed to imitate various conditions and ecosystems. Europe, Patagonia, Sahel-Sudan, Guyana, and Madagascar are the five that are now available to the public, while Equatorial Africa will be completed at a later date.

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The zoo’s main entrance leads visitors through two new ticket halls, all of which are shaded by chain-link panels_© Iwan Baan
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Giraffe enclosure with corrugated metal_© Iwan Baan

A corrugated metal enclosure is covered in a loose latticework of wooden planks in the zoo’s large-scale animal cages, including for the zoo’s 16 giraffes. Beyond that, the museum’s famed Grand Rocher is among the zoo’s false rocks from the original 1934 design.

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Tschumi’s team created distinct shapes for each of the zoo’s freestanding aviaries using a kit of components_© Iwan Baan

The rhino cage and the restaurant are conceptually the same

The Follies were a complex assemblage of pieces that resembled a building game. The zoo itself would be considerably more open and unpredictable. The Follies operate as markers, articulating the area around them, but in the zoo, the reverse is true. Each of the randomized wooden envelopes is there to define the area as a background, not to activate it. So, it’s a sort of anti-La Villette with a few thematic similarities.

A large aviary with a faux stone finish_© Iwan Baan
A large aviary with a faux stone finish_© Iwan Baan

The things at the zoo appear to shift and alter based on their purpose and also their surroundings | Paris Zoological Park

Aviary buildings are crucial because aviaries house a large number of creatures, including tiny mammals, monkeys, and birds. Even little children are housed in educational aviaries. The zoo’s entrance is designed to resemble a vast aviary for tourists. These buildings are similar to the Follies in that they are made up of several pieces that allow for a wide range of shapes.

The miniature aviaries are constructed of black steel tubes with a transparent wire mesh overlay_© Iwan Baan
The miniature aviaries are constructed of black steel tubes with a transparent wire mesh overlay_© Iwan Baan

Since its form & skin are united, the greenhouse appears to be outside of this system

The greenhouse is a little unusual in that its immense size is over 300 feet in length and 75 to 80 feet tall, meaning that the cost element forces you to completely rationalize the quantity of material you have now in addition to making it as effective as possible. As a result, it’s not strange that we discover geometries that are similar to ones that were created in the nineteenth century. The only difference is that the glass in this case is curved—cold curved. It’s pressed into place, and it, of course, employs all of the most cutting-edge cooling and heating technologies available in today’s greenhouses, but the plate isn’t the same as the aviaries and wooden slats mentioned before. The interaction between these little aviaries and the bigger greenhouse is something they all share in common. The little aviaries are dispersed around the countryside like bits, some of which go into the greenhouse and others which remain outside. And an intriguing link between the size change between both the big aviary, which is a large space, and the little aviaries—and between this massive greenhouse and the small aviaries.

Tschumi’s 300-foot-long greenhouse is home to rainforest flora and animals_© Iwan Baan

The double skin, which is utilized in locations like giraffe habitats. However, appears to be looking into the notion of filters, which appear to be a viable remedy to double skin issues.

The two, on the other hand, collaborate. Some of the surfaces, some of the membranes, on a double or threefold skin can be opaque, water-resistant, or airproof, while others can be porous. Some let light pass through, while others block it or filter it. So, in the zoo, each one of these envelopes has a personality that you can play with. The material of the envelope is critical in establishing its character and conceptual presence.

References | Paris Zoological Park

Architects, B. T. (n.d.). Paris zoo. Retrieved from Bernard Tschumi Architects:

Baan, I. (2015, 06 22). Zoological park. Retrieved from Archilovers:

Fixsen, A. (2014, May 16). Snapshot:Parc Zoologique de paris. Retrieved from Architectural Record:


An aspiring urbanist, who is trying to explore herself through architectural writing currently, she believes that the remedy for a healthy planet begins with designing responsive spaces. She is an optimistic, determined and curious person who is always eager to learn and improve her skills.