Building a home for elephants

Copenhagen Zoo New Elephant House

Copenhagen Zoo New Elephant House


Søren Peter Kristensen

Chief specialist
T: +45 5161 7598

Ramboll has helped realise the new Elephant House in Copenhagen Zoo, designed by Norman Foster. This building is setting new standards for animal welfare in inner city zoos, being designed with regard to the social patterns of the elephant as well as a desire to bring a sense of light and openness.

Resisting the strength of an elephant

The two glass domes covering the building ensure a view of the sky and the barriers between the visitor and the animals are kept as discreet as possible. The combination of strong animals and the desire to maintain the openness has posed several technical challenges. For example, the concrete columns in the structure have to appear as light as possible, while still being able to resist the pressure of an elephant.

“There is very limited international experience in building elephant stalls and this structure is far more advanced than any of the existing environments. A fundamental demand for the structure is its enormous strength requirement. Male elephants weigh up to 5.5 tonnes, meaning that all walls have to be able to resist a horizontal pressure of up to 140 KN,” says Gerner Michael Kragh Pedersen, Superintendent Engineer for the elephant house.

Integrated engineering design

Ramboll has produced the fully integrated engineering design for the new elephant house using the latest 3D technology and has also supervised the building process. The elephant house was opened to the public on 10 June 2008.


First Floor, Emerald Building
Oud Metha Road
PO Box 116921, Dubai, UAE
Tel:+971 4 334 3616
Fax:+971 4 334 3617


Other sites

Other sites