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New Elephant House at Cologne Zoo

The design for the Cologne Elephant House is the light-weight, membrane construction of a transparent "roof cloud" over a free plan geometry.

 

This was made possible through the use of a new form-optimisation method for structural calculations and the use of ETFE Fluoropolymer sheeting for the roof material.

Designed for:

Invited European Competition

Design:

1999

Project Team:

- Edgar Stach

- Steve Bringman

- Peter Hillermann

Structural Consultants:

Professor Dr. Bucher, Dr. Dirk Roos

Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany

Ove Arup and Partner, Düsseldorf

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Identity

On the site was a hill, water, some trees.

The hill turns into a series of walls.

The trees turn into columns.

The clouds turn into a transparent roof.

On the site was a hill, water, some trees.

The hill turns into a series of walls.

The trees turn into columns.

The clouds turn into a transparent roof.

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Transparency

The Cologne Zoo wanted to conduct an experiment:

30 elephants, removed from their natural habitat, should be kept in an environment as similar to their own as possible. Rather than building a new elephant house, the zoo would like to build a new environment.

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The Material

Triple-layered pneumatic membrane:

ETFE Foil, 100% crystal clear, self cleaning, weight is only 150 gram per square meter, very flexible, perfect for this soft steal structure.

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Design Parameters

long span roof structure, light weight structure, unusually shaped, no grid, maximum transparency, maximum UV-transmission

Steps in the development:

 

  • Mechanical analysis of a volumetric finite element model

  • Spatial stress analysis and visualisation of stress trajectories (force paths) within the volumetric model using Finite-Element-Method

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Secondary Structure:

Fluoropolymer Sheeting Pillow

The energy concept is designed to incorporate the natural resources of wind and sun, minimising the need for complicated technical systems through natural means.

The triple-layered membrane roof is an active component in this system, acting as an adaptable collector surface that can react to the changing parameters of light and temperature.

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