Gorilla Kingdom is considered to be one of the most significant re-structuring projects undertaken by the London Zoo in more than forty years. The brief was to design an enclosure that highlights the plight of western lowland gorillas and other species native to African rainforests in Congo, Rwanda and Gabon. The project successfully achieves its goal in providing an immersive landscape that includes a variety of viewing areas for face-to-face interactions as well as a platform upon which the Zoo’s research can be presented to visitors.
Architectural details were designed to evoke the natural environment from which the gorilla’s species originate. A series of wooden panels with designed cut-outs envelope the interior of the enclosure’s main viewing space providing it with a distinct character. The layout of spaces offers visitors a variety of indoor and outdoor areas from which to view the gorillas. Each viewing point unfolds as visitors follow a promenade along a secure moat designed to resemble a natural watering hole.
The project was part of the Zoo’s wider strategy to provide enlarged and enhanced animal environment which included the removal of visually obtrusive barriers separating the animals from visitors. Across two years, Proctor and Matthews worked in collaboration with a team of in-house consultants that consisted of specialist project advisors, animal experts and animal keepers.
Gorilla Kingdom includes a new night quarter, a day gym and visitor viewing areas. Also included in the project were new separate enclosures for Diana monkeys, Colobus monkeys, Nile Monitors, African Tree Frogs and White Collar Mangabes together with a new aviary for Lilly Hoppers, Congo Pea Fowl and Superb Starlings. In addition, the brief called for an area for corporate events where conservation agendas could be presented to a wider audience.