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Unzoo: creating conservational conscience - a progressive development scheme for Johannesburg Zoo

By Bronwyn Anne Allcock

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Humans and animals have a diverse and complex set of relationships but their inextricable narratives of development leave them interdependent. By understanding the human fascination with other living beings, in conjunction with our responsibility of preserving the planet, the importance of human-animal interaction becomes apparent. Acknowledgment that understanding the role played by animals in society, ancient and modern, goes far beyond biology, introduces ideas of culture, association and imagination as key contributing elements to the forging of meaningful relationships between man and beast. Zoological gardens, as an architectural typology, are a fundamental platform for human-animal interaction and an important link in the chain of conservation. Their development over time illustrates a refl ection of human thought and highlights the typology as a powerful tool in the establishment of an environmental conscience. A redefi nition of the role of the modern zoo causes us to critically analyse the experience of animal spectatorship; learning about animals aids us in learning about ourselves. Understanding the complexities of both people and animals can expose common ground, through which we can educate ourselves and improve our abilities to create a better environment for animals, and in so doing perhaps also for ourselves. This thesis proposes a redevelopment scheme for a portion of Johannesburg Zoo; creating a transition from the traditional colonial zoological garden model to an urban ecological destination, in line with contemporary conservational thought. Through understanding the historical, topographical and functional layering that conglomerates the existing Johannesburg Zoo, the design prioritises a sensory architectural experience: liberating zoo animals from cages and altering the physical and psychological viewpoint of the spectator.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2016
Pages 165
Publisher University of the Witwatersrand
Location of Publication Johannesburg, South Africa
Department Engineering and the Built Environment
Degree Architecture
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal housing
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Conservation
  6. Culture
  7. Human-animal interactions
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Physical environment
  10. Social Environments
  11. Societies
  12. Zoo and captive wild animals
  13. Zoos