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Bristol Zoo Gorilla House


Bristol Zoo had a growing group ‘Band’ of gorillas who required an extension to their existing building. The gorillas’ habitat was extended into an existing Grade II listed Victorian masonry building. There were many challenges associated with the project, one was that the gorillas remained on site for the duration of the design and construction period. This reduced the amount of intrusive investigation works which could be undertaken and led to a complex construction sequence to ensure that the public and construction workers were separated from the gorillas at every stage of the build. The loading conditions are not those normally experienced within construction projects. Adult male silverback gorillas can reach 300kg, and we reviewed gorilla impact loading and gorillas falling from height onto a glazed structure. The design team worked closely to produce co-ordinated bespoke steelwork details for the visitor tunnel, allowing this to be fabricated and fixed to the existing historic building. New concrete walkways for the gorillas are supported on steel frames and fixed to the existing Victorian masonry. The new keeper building reuses some existing foundations and adopts new foundations to bridge over existing services. Coordination was key to ensuring a stunning project for the public, the gorillas, the keepers and the zoo.

Bristol Zoo Gardens : Architecton : Rigg Construction : £1m
Photography: Bristol Zoo

“The Gorilla House is already a hit with staff, guests and most importantly the gorillas!”
Richard Rollings, Senior Development Manager Bristol Zoo Gardens