Project by Proctor and Matthews Architect
“Heart of Africa, or HOA, is part of the Natural Vision project: a masterplan to renovate and extend Chester Zoo and make it one of the largest and most innovative zoos in the World.
Proctor and Matthews Architects was hired as an Architectural sub-consultant for AECOM after winning an invited competition. With a total budget of £60million, Heart of Africa covers a total area of 8.72 Ha amongst which 16,650 Sq.m. will be covered by a 200m long, 60m wide steel and ETFE free-form Gridshell. This roof will create a “green house” effect and the respiration of tropical plants will create a naturally high humidity level.
In order to create a stable central African climate, the humidity level will be kept at 70% and the temperature at 24°C all year long.
Both ETFE’s Daylight transmittance of 80% and its lightness, which reduces the amount of structure needed therefore reducing shading, will increase the green house effect and lower the need for artificial heating and CO2 emission. However, in winter when the greenhouse effect is not enough to reach this temperature, animal and vegetable waste will be burnt in a biomass boiler and the hot air will be blown into the “rainforest”.
In summer, opening vents on the roof will allow excess heat or humidity out.The project will host animals from the rainforests of D.R. Congo including Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Okapis, Mandrills, crocodile, Bongos and Red river Hogs, but also tropical birds and plants. All the animals, apart from crocodiles and birds and as far as possible, will freely roam from indoor to outdoor paddocks. The animals will always have access to off-show holding areas where they will principally be inspected and fed. Most of these services will be hidden within “burms” which will create a hilly landscape similar to the one in Congo. These burms are also used to separate the different paddocks.Empirical knowledge and work with international consultants informed the design of an almost stress-free environment for the animal and a viable one for the tropical plants.
A “petal-like” main circulation path will drive the visitors in and out of the indoor space depending on the season, the goal being to provide for a “winter zoo” in which people can go in the case of bad weather.
A long canoe boat ride will take visitors in and out of the rainforest providing different viewpoints towards the animal paddocks.”
I worked as an Architectural Assistant on this project, in charge of the parametric modelling together with Kengo Skorick.
Proctor and Matthews Architects
Stephen Proctor, Andrew Matthews, Stephanie Southward, Constance Leibrock, Benoit Sanson, Kengo Skorick, Arthur Mamou-mani, Steven Davies, Anna Marchant
499-505 Hackney Rd