The Antwerp Zoo was established in 1843, it is the oldest animal park in Belgium (one of the oldest in the world) and today it is considered as a national monument.
However, the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp has chosen the architects of Studio Farris to renovate the complex and design the new restaurant, the aviary and the areas dedicated to apes and buffalos.
The zoo occupies a large portion of the historical city center, its surface area nearing 10 hectares, and the Studio Farris’ intervention defines the eastern boundary of the zoo, in continuity with its historical perimeter wall.
In particular, its street facade is now punctured by a system of openings that reveal some of the inner functions to pedestrians, be they parts of the restaurant tables or the kitchen itself, while a series of periscopes even allow views into the savannah.
On the zoo side the facade opens up to the main plaza: a major gathering space, sheltered by a series of square canopies supported by slender columns that face the existing pavilions, where visitors may enjoy unobstructed views to the apes’ enclosure on one side and to the savannah, with its buffalos and birds, to the other.
The new restaurant, that accommodates 350 seats indoor and 400 outdoor, is hence located between the home of the great apes to the North and the buffalo’s habitat and aviary to the South: by means of extending the existing animal shelters on both sides, the project aims at establishing an intertwining relationship between visitors and animals.
On the other hand, the style of the building that hosts the restaurant is understated, is characterised by ample windows opening towards the inner space of the zoo and is based on tensile lightweight structures so as to promote the relationship with the plants and the animals of the zoo.
In conclusion, with this project, completed in June 2017, Studio Farris was able to effectively respond to the complex needs of the animals, visitors and operators of the zoo.