London NW1 4RY
Berthold Lubetkin 1934
Lubetkin seems to have seen this
building as an opportunity to creatively explore the possibilities of a
new building material available in 1934 - reinforced concrete. Having
studied the habits of penguins he created a penguin enclosure and pool
that provides an interesting environment for the penguins, a multiplicity
of viewing angles for the spectator and a Modernist building of true
clarity and style.
After setting up the
architectural group 'Tecton' in 1932 the penguin pool was one of his first
commissions, from the Director of London Zoo. The overall elliptical shape
is referenced in the spiraling intertwined ramps that connect the
different levels; these sloping cambered ramps give a dynamic feel to the
The large elliptical blue pool
provides the birds with a large swimming area and also gives a contrast to
the white concrete used throughout. There is a partially shaded area to
provide the birds with protection from the direct sun, and the gently
curved walls are designed to echo the penguin's cries.
This building cleverly combines
practical considerations, such as a shaded area for the penguins and
gently sloping access to the pool, with a powerful aesthetic statement of
form and line.
The penguin pool is a Grade 1
listed building in the UK Government scheme for protecting important
John Perrin 2002
How to visit
London Zoo is open every day
except Christmas Day. The nearest underground station is Camden
For more information call +44 20
7722 3333, or the London Zoo
web site has comprehensive visitor information at www.londonzoo.co.uk.
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