Paris Zoological Park

Atelier Jacqueline Osty & Associés: The Paris Zoological Park opened its doors again in April, 2014 after 27 months of renovation work that transformed it to the core while renewing the zoo’s existing strong points, most notably the gardens’ iconic Great Rock. 40% more landscaped space has been added to the original 1934 zoo, but most of all, it’s the evolving vision of the relationship between humans and animals that has been completely revisited. The new landscape designed by Atelier Jacqueline Osty & Associés for the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is proof of this. Out go the bars as the animals roam free in enclosures and compounds. The general public is now offered encounters with animals and nature in a peaceful relationship fostered by newly blurred boundaries and the principle of genuine otherness fueled by changing from up-to-down views to more face-to-face encounters.

“Cinema and theater: the reference to mise en scène is everywhere in the design of the new landscaped spaces. Five “biozones” succeed one another along a four-kilometer tracking shot, starting with Patagonia, then on to the Sudanese Sahel, Europe, Guyana and Madagascar. From on- to off-screen, scenes from the wings, foreground and background, the eye is guided, and the views are infinitely receding, scripted meticulously in composition and framing. Continuing this metaphor, Atelier has created successive visual frames that enlarge the dimensions and break down distances between humans and animals. Time as a fourth dimension has been added to 2D and 3D.”

“The biozones are not mere mimicry of idealized nature transposed to the heart of Paris. Atelier worked on suggestion, playing visual references—colors, matter, levels and surfaces —to steep visitors in the appropriate atmosphere. Landscapes have been completely invented with the original sites’ essential features and relief being suggested. Thus the expanses of the Sahel and the empty plains of Patagonia are evoked by folding the ground and deploying the colors and matter specific to each place, the forests of Madagascar by the density and heights of its plant life. This dissimulation of tracks has led to the design of unique places through their landscapes, their spaces and their diversity. Visitors are neither “here” nor “there” but in an in-between world that generates a troubling disorientation.”

“The Vincennes Zoo is part and parcel of Parisian collective memory. Atelier’s proposal consists in preserving the symbolic elements to counteract any temptation for nostalgia. The zoo has been organized around the Gardens’ flagship landmark, the Great Rock. This was one of the brief’s specificities and a strong point in Atelier’s proposal. Renovated in the 1990s, it could be preserved as such, like certain other isolated rocks, ponds and trees. On the other hand, rather than “sticking to the past”, Atelier suggested a total remake of the landscaped spaces.”

 
Landscape Architecture: Atelier Jacqueline Osty & Associés
Location: Paris, France
Overall surface: ÷ 34,5 acres (139.616m2)
Budget: €167m
Design: 2008-2010
Construction: 2011-2014
Text: excerpts from the publication “Paris Zoological Park”, by Atelier Jacqueline Osty & Associés
Photos: Martin Argyroglo, Claude Cieutat, Mikaël Mugnier

Project Management: Atelier Jacqueline Osty & Associés, urban landscape architects for the Park’s landscaping design
– Research adviser: Mikaël Mugnier (Landscape architect)
– Project Manager: Camille Piot (Architect) and Renaud Riboulet (Landscape architect)
– For the 5 aviaries: Lionel Orsi Architect
Bernard Tschumi urbanistes Architectes with Véronique Descharrières for the architectural design of new buildings
Synthèse Architecture with Bernard Hemery for the architectural design of the technical and renovated buildings
El Hassani & Keller for the scenography of the vivariums and the Park’s educational and directional sign-posting
SETEC Bâtiment for the technical fluids excluding the pond-water treatment
Bouygues Bâtiment-Île-de-France for the other technical areas

Overall surface : ÷ 34,5 acres
Greenhouse : ÷ 4,3000 sq. feet
Atelier’s Intervention: 29.7 acres
Bernard Tschumi Urbanistes Architectes Intervention: 2.5 acres

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