ELEPHANT AND RHINOCEROS PAVILION LONDON ZOO

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II*
List Entry Number:
1323694
Date first listed:
12-Jun-1998
Statutory Address:
ELEPHANT AND RHINOCEROS PAVILION LONDON ZOO, REGENTS PARK NW1

Map

Ordnance survey map of ELEPHANT AND RHINOCEROS PAVILION LONDON ZOO
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Location

Statutory Address:
ELEPHANT AND RHINOCEROS PAVILION LONDON ZOO, REGENTS PARK NW1

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Greater London Authority
District:
City of Westminster (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 28094 83354

Details

TQ 2883 SW REGENTS PARK, NW1

1900/5/10104 Elephant and Rhinoceros Pavillion, London Zoo

GV II*

Animal house. Designed 1961, built 1962-5 by Sir Hugh Casson, Neville Conder and Partners; Jenkins and Potter engineers; landscape architect Peter Shepheard; in consultation with F A P Stengelhofen, architect to the Zoological Society of London. Reinforced concrete, with ribbed walls in three main pours - the rubbed texture designed to prevent the animals rubbing up against them and injuring either party - and inner brick skin; conical copper roofs. The complex is set within walls, ditch and raised paddock enclosure of purple brick, with purple brick paviours and plinth. Internally the animal pens are lined in mosaic, whilst the public spaces are spanned by laminated wood beams set in metal shoes. The tough finishes are carefully considered, tactile and well detailed, and are an important component of the buildings exceptional quality.

Complex concave form designed to resemble 'animals drinking at a pool', the pavilion was designed to house four elephants and four rhinoceroses in paired pens, each with access to sick-bay pens and to moated external paddocks. Heavy double doors to entrance, reached via steps for public; slit windows to staff areas only, the others incorporated as skylights. The pens are arranged round a central hall for the public, who circulate through the building at a slightly lower level on an S-Shaped route, with sunken viewing area and integral fixed benches between them and the animals. The pens themselves are circular, reflecting the turning movements of the animals and avoiding sharp corners or spaces difficult to clean. The pens are top-lit, the funnels combining light with extract fans, and the public spaces kept dark; the effect has been likened to a theatrical cyclorama. Elephant bathing area and keeper's mess room - the latter said to be the only area whose form is not the logical consequence of functional requirements.

The Elephant and Rhino Pavilion was one of the earliest and most important buildings erected at London Zoo following Stengelhofen and Casson's Redevelopment Plan of 1956 (q.v. Snowdon Aviary), commissioned by Lord Zuckermann. It reflects Casson and Conder's long experience of exhibition design, for it was conceived deliberately 'to display these massive animals in the most dramatic way' (Zoological Societys press release, January 1962). In this the building continues the idiom established so successfully he neighbouring Penguin Pool (Lubetkin and Tecton, q.v), with the architecture of the buildings reflecting the character of the animals they house, and encouraging them to display themselves. 'Elephants are such architectural animals that there is a temptation to look at a building housing them as a kind of analogy of themselves. This building, for example, could be described in terms of its massive curves, its wrinkled hide and its curious silhouette', wrote J M Richards in the 'Architectural Review'. The contrast between this and the featherweight, soaring form of the Snowdon Aviary is telling. No wonder that Ian Nairn likened the Zoo to an 'architectural Tower of Babel'.

There is a debt, too, to Tecton's circular elephant pens at Whipsnade Zoo, rather than to the same firm's unbuilt scheme for London of 1938. The Elephant and Rhino Pavilion is the most mature, carefully considered and richly detailed of a succession of British zoo buildings from the period 1931-65, and the finest permanent building by one of the leading architectural firms of the period. Sir Hugh himself described it as 'a saucy building'; others have admired the close relationship between public and animals, the practical materials and sculptural shape. 'The technique with which [the building] has been done, depending first on lighting, secondly on scale and thirdly on colour, is masterly' (Architectural Review, July 1965). [Architects' journal: 10/1/62, p8; 24/3/65, p693; The Builder: 16/9/65, ppl23-7; Architectural Review: July 1965, ppl3-20; Architect and Building News: 1993; Ian Nairn, Nairn's London, Harmondsworth, 1966-88, pp85-6.]





Listing NGR: TQ2809483354

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
469315
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Nairn, I, Nairns London, (1988), 85-6
'Architect and Building News' in Architect and Building News, (1993)
'Architects Journal' in 24 March, (1965), 693
'Architectural Review' in July, (1965), 13-20
'Architects Journal' in 10 January, (1962), 8
'The Builder' in 16 September, (1965), 123-7

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 06 Apr 2000
Reference: IOE01/99024/03
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Dan Woodrow. Source Historic England Archive
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