15 apr. 2009

Zoo de Vincennes. Paris

These are some plans for a new zoological park in Vincennes, France. The zoo's landscapes are designed by TN PLUS Landscape Architects, its buildings by Paris architects Beckmann N'Thepe. The project is noteworthy for, among other things, what could be called its simulated geology.
These artificial earthforms will contain simulated environments within which animals will live. The whole complex will encompass 15 hectares and six "biozones," and it will run partly on solar power.
The park's "biozones" include the savannah, the equatorial African rain forest, Patagonia, French Guiana, Madagascar, and Europe
So the zoo – like all zoos, of course – will be a simulation intended for animals. Zoos, in other words, are a particularly bizarre form of trans-species communication, attempted on the level of architecture and landscape design. They're like hieroglyphs that animals inhabit – spaces defined entirely by their ability to refer to something they are not.
And I have to say that the renderings of this place look pretty cool. But why do we only build zoos like this? Why not suburbs or college campuses? You mold landforms out of reinforced concrete, and you install artificial waterfalls and fake rivers, and you grow rare orchids under the cover of geodesic domes. And then your grandkids can grow up in a savannah-themed suburb outside Orlando. The next town over, kids run around through giant fern trees, chasing parrots. Perhaps themed biozones are the future of suburban design?

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