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Glass-Free Menagerie: Zootopia Zoo Concept Gets Rid Of Enclosures


Stashed in: Design!, Design, Cities

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Zootopia is still in the concept stage, but Ingels says the idea is to include only social animals that like to live in groups.

"Which means you won't have a lonely tiger walking around inside a cage," he says. "You'll have ... all kinds of animals that like to be together in larger groups, so that we can actually create entire habitats."

The idea behind the crater-like entrance, Ingels says, is to give visitors an overview of the park, as well as act as a central gateway to the various areas of the zoo representing America, Africa and Asia. He says there will different ways to move through each area of the park — bikes, boats and sky cars — but that visitors will be separated from the animals by natural, invisible barriers.

"The idea is interfacing with animals in completely new ways," he says. "What we've tried to do is eliminate all traces of human architecture."

Buildings are masked as rolling hills and hidden barriers in waterways replace visible fences and barricades.

"The main contribution of Zootopia to the animal welfare is that because they are all social animals, they live really live with much more space than in a typical zoo," he says. "Both the human experience and the animal experience is going to be much more exciting."

Ingels says that building a zoo in this way might also lend itself to new and interesting ways human, urban environments could be built in the future.

"You're seeing more and more that the distinction between the city and nature ... is blurring more and more," he says. "It becomes more relevant to make sure that the other life forms can actually cohabit successfully with us.

"I really do think that if you can make great zoos, where so many different species can live in close proximity and harmony, you really can make great cities," he says.