The 17th century expansion gave Amsterdam the organized urban area that befitted the capital of a small country that became a world power. When finished, there was more ground within the city walls than was needed for construction. So it happened that the eastern part became Plantage, a plantation for horticulture and recreation.
|Natura Artis Magistra, the venerable learned
society founded in 1838, that lent Artis its name, conceived what now
would be called a theme park, to bring nature and culture together,
providing enlightened insight to all.
After more than 150 years a much needed extension is made possible by moving the parking lot underground.
The unique curved rectangular layout of the canal system that surrounds the medieval center of Amsterdam is still discernable. The interweaving pattern of streets and waterways provides structure in lanes and ponds. In the extension plan this grid is made visible by continuing an adjacent avenue and enlarging the water surface.
Since 1842, an asymmetrical pattern of paths, flower beds and vistas was laid out over the Plantage grid structure for the zoo. Still, the original grid, almost hidden under apparent naturalism of the English landscape style, confers unity and structure to the garden. A coherent system of pavement, lighting and planting connects the jigsaw pattern at the joints.
Artis Zoo is a park of many layers. A garden with animals in it, but also an urban park with greenhouses, museum, aquarium and planetarium. Next to each other, past and present, buildings surrounded by nature and nature contained in buildings, caged exotic birds and local fowl flying in and out, all covered by a canopy of trees that adds an arboretum to crown it.
This opulent system of grid, maze and layers is enriched with new connections to the city around. The main entrance is augmented by a park entrance to the south and a dock entrance for canal boats on the opposite side. The formal architecture surrounding the grounds is pierced to allow a view of the more scattered buildings inside. Ideally, it’s a zoo without fences.
One of the new spaces is the meerkat enclosure.
In collaboration with
Erik de Jong
Francien van Kempen
Emilio Troncoso Larrain