Imagine experiencing the richly varied ecology of every major continent in the world – all in a single zoo. A new proposal by architecture firms TN Plus and Beckmann N’Thépé aims to recreate Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed on Earth 250 million years ago, in a sprawling man-made development outside urban St. Petersburg, Russia.
With St. Petersburg’s current zoo, the historic Leningrad, beginning to show its age and grow outside its limited space, the city has set its sights on developing a 1.15-square-mile parcel of land where the animals will have much more room to live in a more natural setting. Relocating the zoo will also open up much-needed space in the city for residents and businesses.
Designed as an archipelago on land with plentiful water sources, the new zoo will place each continent on an island, connected to the others with walkways and, in the case of North America and Eurasia, a recreation of Arctic ice. Each island will feature animal exhibits and preserves native to the continent it represents. The designers are aiming for a balance between artifice and nature, prioritizing the needs of the animals but also offering an enriching experience for visitors. The designers have not, however, revealed any plans for sustainably maintaining these artificial environments so far outside their natural climactic range.
“The zoo as sphere is seen as a metaphor for the history of humanity, the deep connection between man and his environment and the link between self and other. It makes this coexistence possible by demonstrating the idea that it is possible to produce an ideal world that can easily translate to the real world. The spheres determine the variable boundaries of our living space, whether it has the intimacy of a bubble or the cosmopolitan immensity of a globe.”