Giraffe House

by | 26. Jul 2012

Other | Project

Photo: Franken Architecturalphotography


A project that fits the ambitions of the Rotterdam Zoo where sustainability is one of the key issues.

The house for the giraffes is designed as a “Shelter,” for which the archetype of the African Coral has served as the model. It is the first building designed for animals following the principles of the sustainability philosophy called “Cradle to Cradle.”

The project forced us to unite the tensions between the neutral climate requirements ambitions and that of a healthy climate for the African animals. The end result gives a special satisfaction.
/Menno Lam, LAM architects

Photo: Franken Architecturalphotography

Lam refers to the full energy concept and architecture of the building, where everything is considered. The building is almost free of maintenance, and the vast majority of materials are easily reused or recycled.


Photo: Franken Architecturalphotography


The 330,000 liters of rainwater the building collects annually will be used for the plants in an adjacent habitat. Wood chips, rather than fossil fuels, are burned for heating.


Photo: Franken Architecturalphotography

On cold days the animals themselves search for warmth at special designed “cuddle-walls” (steel elements with low temperature heating inside). Warming-up the animals makes it unnecessary to the heat the whole 4500 cubic meter building. Where possible materials with a very low environmental impact are used.


Photo: Franken Architecturalphotography



Photo: Franken Architecturalphotography

The holistic approach to the architectural design provides a high degree of comfort for all. Concern for animal welfare is reflected in the round shape, the amount of space and height, the use of non-toxic materials, and daylight. Natural ventilation also contributes to a healthy indoor climate.

Many materials within “licking-range” of the giraffes are applied untreated to prevent them from toxic substances. Where it is not possible to have an untreated solution a very durable non toxic application is used.


Drawing courtesy LAM architects


Drawing courtesy LAM architects

Although the “Savannah House,” the name used at the Zoo, is suitable for various savannah animals, it is a tailor made design for the size and lifestyle of the giraffes.

The building will be opened officially by Mayor AbouTaleb on July 8th. The giraffes where the first to step over the threshold on June 26th.


COUNTRYThe Netherlands