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Animal House Artis


The significance of zoos is changing, with evolving ideas about the relationship between humans and non-humans, and the rise of the animal rights movement. This design for a primates’ house addresses these changes. Naturis Artis Magistra, the full name of the zoo commonly known as Artis, is almost two centuries old. It consists of a collection of pavilions, historical and recent, set in an English landscape park.


The new primates’ house, puts the needs and well-being of its inhabitants front and centre. The proportion of one to four allows the monkeys to roam comfortably through their new home, which is built on top of a solid base containing their indoor quarters and a restaurant for humans. The timber upper part, with the outdoor space, is light and transparent.


The classic composition with a massive plinth affirms the position of the building in the architectural history of the zoo, and alludes to the elegant historical display cabinet elsewhere in the zoo.  The airy octagonal shape, which complements the existing concrete ‘monkey rock’, is omni-directional and helps to situate the animal house as pivotal point in the circulation through the zoo.

Project: Monkey house
Client: Artis
Location: Amsterdam
Status: Competition lost
Team: Ard de Vries Architecten & Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke

Photos model: Arie de Leeuw
Model: Concrete elements by Fluke Concrete

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