Gorilla House, London Zoo

Tecton Group, London, 1934


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The Gorilla House from the entance porch 

Architectural Review     Download Original

  • The Gorilla House from the entance porch    
  • The house from the East    
  • View from the north-east    
  • View from the south    
  • View from north-west    
  • View from west    
  • Open position of the revolving structure    
  • Half open position of the revolving structure    
  • Shut position of the revolving structure    
  • Interior view of the revolving structure when open    
  • Interior view of the winter cage    
  • Plan    
  • Section taken through winter and summer cages taken on the line A-B of plan    
  • North-south section on line A-B of plan showing air current distribution    
  • Axonometric drawing showing the construction    
  • Diagram showing public circulation around the house    
  • Axonometric details of the successive operations of feeding gorillas and isolating them at night in their sleeping boxes    

A modernist building in London Zoo to satisfy the needs of visiting humans and housed animals

The problem facing the architects was twofold; science and visibilty. The building had to accommodate animals so that they could be outdoors as much as possible in summer, protected enough in winter, while avoiding visitors seeing empty winter cages.

This decided the circular plan of the building. A semi-circular revolving structure surrounds the cage in winter time, then slides behind the enclosed half of the cage in summer. Glass screens protect the gorillas from human diseases in winter time whilst disappearing in summer, where a distance of two and a half meters divides the gorillas and public.

When the summer cage is enclosed, the gorillas occupy the northern semicircular half, lit by clerestory windows, providing a good view for the public who are unlit without seeing their own reflections.

The revolving structure pivots centrally upon ball bearings on a solid steel column and is supported at its outer edge by fifteen rollers moving along a steel channel running completely around the top of the building, while the wall hangs from the roof. The main structure is reinforced concrete and since no rendering has been used, deep grooves run along its surface in horizontal bands.


  • Begun: 1932
  • Completed: 1934
  • Sector: Sports and leisure
  • Funding: Zoological Society
  • Address: Outer Circle, Regents Park, London, NW1 4RY, United Kingdom

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