Parks and gardens


(0 ratings)

Orang-utan enclosure in Barcelona Zoo

Forgas arquitectes | Joan Forgas, Dolors Ylla-Català, Cristina Goenaga, Pedro Gil

FAD Awards finalist 2018  City and landscape
Description Technical file

The Jury’s appraisal:Starting from a deep knowledge of the issues involved in the conservation and display of these extraordinary animals, this installation treads the line between optimal living conditions for the orang-utans and easy observation of their habitats in captivity. The result is a blend of architecture and landscaping that is robust and secure while remaining welcoming for its inhabitants as well as visitors.

Orang-utans are the only Asian great ape species and inhabit the rainforests of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. As a species, they display certain specific characteristics that need to be very much taken into account when designing their zoo habitat. In contrast to gorillas and chimpanzees, orang-utans do not live in family groups, yet have a complex social life. Some males have facial protrusions that, besides giving them a characteristic appearance, are associated with a far more solitary and dominant character. These animals open their territory to several adult females with their young and are relatively tolerant of males without protrusions, but do not tolerate the presence of other males that do have them. Orang-utans are animals with highly developed cognitive abilities, great strength and dexterity that make them great “escapists”, giving them skills for manipulating, operating and deconstructing mechanisms.

The complex social life of orang-utans requires a new enclosure with different spaces for flexible use. Covering a total area of 2,054 m², it comprises a route for the public and 4 zones for the orang-utans: two of them are climate-controlled to provide shelter when the weather is adverse, and two are open, landscaped spaces where the animals can enjoy the sunshine and a more natural atmosphere.

The outdoor spaces make the most of an old obsolete moat that evokes a hollow of rocks, with a flowing cascade that feeds into a stream. The water creates a secure and clear boundary, propitiating good visibility and proximity for visitors while avoiding excessive intrusiveness. The sound of the cascade insulates visitors from the surroundings and favours the intensity of the visit. The external borders of the enclosure are shaped by a bamboo forest acting as a visitor lead-in.

The proposal took special care with aspects such as the management and wellbeing of the orang-utans, providing visitors with an intimate and complex vision without foregoing the abstraction and expression of the architecture and the landscape that surrounds the enclosure.
Interiors and exteriors mingle in a quest for a close and balanced relationship between visitors and orang-utans.

add to my library

Share |


+ on the same author/s
+ on the same photographer

Do you want to write a comment?
Login to start session.
Localización Location: Barcelona, Spain. Autores Authors: Forgas arquitectes | Joan Forgas, Dolors Ylla-Català, Cristina Goenaga, Pedro Gil, arquitectos. Dirección de ejecución Execution management: Eulàlia Aran. Estructuras Structures: Manuel Arguijo. Instalaciones Facilities: Grupo JG. Escenotecnia Stagecraft: Silvia Vicente | Blue Displays. Paisajismo Landscaping: Manel Colomines. Promotor Developer: BSMSA | Zoo de Barcelona. Constructora General Contractor: ARNO, VOPI-4. Superficie Area: 2.054m². Ejecución Completion: 2014-2015. Fotografía Photography: Simón García.
Joan Forgas
Dolors Ylla-Català
Forgas Arquitectes
Simón García