Barcelona Zoo’s orangutan enclosure is a finalist in the FAD Architecture Awards
The Awards jury have noted the enclosure’s blending together of architecture and landscape, whilst also ensuring the highest levels of animal welfare
The orangutan enclosure at Barcelona Zoo was designed by Joan Forgas Coll and Dolors Ylla-Català, and has been nominated for the prestigious FAD Architecture Awards, within the "City and Landscape" category. The jury appreciated that the enclosure incorporates everything necessary to ensure that "the animals are kept in optimal living conditions, whilst enabling their habits to be observed”. The result "is a blend of architecture and landscaping that is both durable and comfortable both for its inhabitants and visitors”.
The design of the enclosure adhered to criteria to ensure the highest levels of welfare for the animals and maximum flexibility in how the space is used. The total 1100 m2 floor space is divided into four main areas - two outdoors and two indoors - which means that the orangutans can be observed throughout the year regardless of the weather from five semi-covered viewing points.
The outdoor areas are designed to be totally natural, with a vegetation barrier that delimits the area and recreates a natural riverbank, made using artificial stone and natural rocks. A main 4-metre-high waterfall and a gentle waterfall keep the area fresh. Features that improve the enclosure have also been included - such as rope trunks and wooden platforms that enable the orangutans to recreate their behaviour in the wild. Also, for the first time, thick iron bars have been installed that provide a swaying motion similar to that of tree branches, and enable the orangutans to move up to the higher areas of the enclosure.
The orangutan - in critical danger of extinction
The Borneo orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) at the zoo are native to that island in Southeast Asia. They are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species in their natural environment. Today, there are just a few scattered and much-reduced populations left on Borneo and they are under threat from the intense felling of trees, poaching and the sale of youngsters on the black market.
Barcelona Zoo plays a leading part in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for orangutans run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The Zoo is also a member of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).