How do you provide for animals and plants that normally are found in Southeast Asia (latitude 10 degrees north of the Equator) in a building that is located at 52 degrees latitude, and in the winter can cope with average seasonal temps around 40°F?

This was the challenge presented to the zoo in Lodz, Poland, for its new addition called the Orientarium, an extended, meandering facility of pavilions, aviaries and aquariums that hold up to 50 different species. The aim of the zoo is to create for the animals and visitors an experience of conditions as close to nature as found in Southeast Asia, all in a single structure that connects all the different venues in a flowing continuum.

The solution was to create transparent roofs that provide natural light but are isolative enough to maintain the near-tropical climates desired. Some of the biomes have rather large skylight spans, so any design solution dictated using the lightweight ETFE pneumatic cushions of the foil. Thermal analysis showed the need for a five-layer system with special anti-condensation clamping that could ensure the structural, visual and thermal performances required through all the seasonal temperature changes in Poland.

The system—designed, engineered, fabricated and installed by Taiyo Europe GmbH—is used for 10 different skylights using 66 individual air-inflated pillows. These ETFE pillows combined provide insulation values of 1.1 W/m2K, helping to keep the interior at a comfortable temperature for the plants and animals.  

“Due to its complexity of 5 layers,” says Taiyo Europe, “this type of system is rarely used and it required us to assess in detail the inflation system to assure each chamber [could] receive the necessary pressure” and still maintain the separation of all the layers in all design/seasonal scenarios.

Project data

Client: City Zoo, Lodz, Poland

Architect: ArC2 Design Factory

Design/fabrication/installation: Taiyo Europe GmbH

Fabric: ETFE Nowoflon, by Nowofol GmbH

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