Lion exhibit and Lotusserre

Diergaarde Blijdorp
Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands

Restoration former tearoom en giraffe house

The existing twin buildings of the former giraffe house and the Lotus glasshouse are a design of Dutch architect Sybold van Ravesteyn who designed the old central part of the Rotterdam Zoo in 1939. These are two of the many listed buildings in the zoo.


The complex was designed as an ending of the old historical vista of the zoo. The central square between the two buildings was always an endpoint of this route. But since the zoo acquired extra plots for further development in the nineties the square was also a starting point from the other side. The visitors coming from the other side always felt a little overwhelmed when they stumbled on the hidden square.


This is fixed by re- designing the complete logistic and public routes around the two buildings. Furthermore two new extra volumes were introduced on the backside of the existing building to enlarge the functional possibilities of both buildings. These volumes are clad with bamboo framing to make a contrast with the original and romantic architecture of Van Ravesteyn.

For the lions in the former giraffe house the addition houses a secluded night shelter for the animals away form the public eye. And for the restaurant the addition houses a preparation area for the kitchen. In this way it was possible to create more seating spaces in the original building. In the high open restaurant floor an extra balcony was introduced for even more seats. The total capacity of the restaurant was almost doubled this way.

The original buildings were restored according to the original schemes. The new steel framing of the windows has insulated glass but looks like traditional steel framing. Now the original subtle and transparent architecture has been restored and the buildings are ready for a new period of modern zoo use.

The design team consists of Siebold Nijenhuis Architect, Broekbakema and Kees Rouw. The project is realized in summer 2015.

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