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  7. Savannah house / LAM Architects

Savannah house / LAM Architects

  • 01:00 - 27 August, 2009
Savannah house / LAM Architects
Savannah house / LAM Architects

Savannah house / LAM Architects Savannah house / LAM Architects Savannah house / LAM Architects Savannah house / LAM Architects +24

  • Architects

  • Location

  • Structural Engineer

    CAE Nederland
  • Program

    Giraffe-house and visitor centre
  • Wooden Frames

    Heko Spanten
  • Building Contractor

    Dura Vermeer Heyma Rotterdam
  • E Contractor

  • Client

    Stichting Koninklijke Rotterdamse Diergaarde, Rotterdam Zoo
  • Area

    570.0 sqm
  • Project Year


From the architect. Sustainable shelter & healthy indoor climate

The accommodation for the giraffe is designed as a "shelter", of witch the archetype of the African coral has served as the model. The design provides a comfortable place for the animals. It also gives them more living space, for the giraffes are free and can go in and out as the please. To create a sustainable building with a good indoor climate, the design takes into account the natural elements: sun, wind and rain.

For natural light and heat so-called passive solar energy is uses. The roof is transparent and the height of the walls is determined for the best solar potential. Inside but also outside, because even on a beautiful sunny autumn or winter day, the animals are able to stand at the north side outside the building and in the sun (see section). On cold and cloudy days is usually sufficient only to heat the animals instead of the whole 4500m3 residence. This is possible because the giraffes can find the necessary warmth ad so called "cuddle-walls”. The heat that is required for these "cuddle-walls” are woodchips burned in stead of fossil fuels.

Natural ventilation also contributes to the pleasant atmosphere. This is possible because the building and the ventilation are oriented at the most common wind direction. The principle of negative air pressure pulls the wind trough the building.

The annually rainfall of approximately 330,000 litres, on the roof of the Savannah House will be collected and used for the thirsty plants in the adjacent building.

Animal welfare

The floor plan is without corners, to provide a relaxed and natural behaviour of the animals. In this way, they are not able clamp each other at a corner, the animals can always turn their back on a approaching conflict an run away. The 'bulging' of the facade gives the animals more freedom. The giraffes will never experience the physical limits of the building, for the building bends away from them.

Many materials within “licking-range” of the giraffes are applied untreated. This is to prevent them from toxic substances, witch could get in through this licking. Where it is not possible to have an untreated solution a very durable non toxic application is used.

A specially designed “cruh” ensures that animals are not to be stunned by research. In addition, an investigation or operation, because of this “crush” is quickly and smoothly done.


The Savannah House, with its specific characteristics, is comfortable for the animals, user-friendly and energy efficient/effective. Sustainability is not only reflected in the energetic concept of the design but also in, plan and materials including untreated wood with FSC-label and grasses as reed and pressed bamboo. By carefully selecting and applying the right materials the building is nearly free of maintenance, convenient for operating costs, but also for the environment. Less maintenance means even less annoyance for the animals, the public and less environmental harassment.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Savannah house / LAM Architects" 27 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


Wufwuf! · May 20, 2015

Giraffes (and other animals) do not belong in a zoo no matter how well it is designed by man. Give them open grazing land in a tropical savannah, a watering hole and acacia trees. That's bliss for them.

Enrique · September 02, 2009

The definition of this:WRONG

hctrgy · September 01, 2009

giraffes are really cool animals!!!

titisnurabadi · August 29, 2009

definitely...playing PIANO.., i am starting to think about we need that? or..?

Liam · August 29, 2009


Sandor · August 28, 2009

How cute, there are still people that think architecture is just about form or appearance ..

I have to admit that there is a resemblance, but to my opinion this project is more about the eco part then the shape as just being a shape.

thomas · August 31, 2009 07:50 PM

again, even more shameful that the eco part is very resembling as well.
if architecture is reading a book, taking a sketchpaper and tracing cute images, then please let me become a gardener.

gonzalo iturriaga · August 28, 2009

ok!!!! but this is a renzo piano proyect?????

Juni · August 27, 2009

At least some did the same in lyon (for giraffes too) but the reference was less obvious.
See? you can actually do some wooden styled giraffe venue without copying on your neighboor!

natch · August 27, 2009

And form wehre Renzo took the inspiration?
And from wehre you?

ciacengeric · August 27, 2009

what a shame!! copycat!

Alex Leonard · August 27, 2009

even right doown to the steel crossframing in the glass roof, this is Piano through and through. If this is something new, than so is the McMansion.

Niko · August 27, 2009

SO WHAT ,does that mean that we cannot translate something old into new

noName · August 27, 2009 05:17 PM

If something new means reducing the original piano to a formal translation with girafes in it...yes we can.

thomas · August 27, 2009 05:02 PM

Depends on your definition of 'new'.

thomas · August 27, 2009

"The Piano has been drinking...not me" - Tom Waits

noName · August 27, 2009

As you can see, not everybody can play the piano, te lam om piano te spelen.

Cicicle · August 27, 2009

Wait WAT!!
Look at the sketches for the Piano'project! Completely "inspired"!
Do they think we don't know The Noumea Center?

thomas · August 27, 2009

Where did i see this before?
ah wait, Renzo Piano!

Rani · August 27, 2009 03:22 PM

That's why it looked so familiar! I was scratching my head to remember what it reminded me of : The Renzo Piano Tjibaou Cultural Center.


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