dan pearlman | new Water Worlds habitat for Osnabrück Zoo


Dan Pearlman, a leading brand and experience architecture group, celebrates the opening of a new habitat for seals, sea lions, pink pelicans and Humboldt penguins at Osnabrück Zoo in Germany, called Wasserwelten, or Water Worlds. The new area, which opened to the public in July 2022, upgraded existing facilities for these species, which have inhabited the zoo since 1984.

The concept of the new habitat was developed by dan pearlman Group and Kieran Stanley‘s team, in collaboration with the zoo. With 5,000 square meters, it provides three to five times more space for animals, exceeding the recommended minimum space for these species. In addition to the amount of space, the quality of space has also been improved by this project.

The dan pearlman group’s zoo designers took into account the animals‘ natural habits, creating a more complex and nurturing environment that meets the behavioral needs of these species. Therefore, the new habitat provides the necessary dynamic environments, cognitive challenges, and opportunities for social interaction for the animals that inhabit it.

For example, when designing the rocky landscape of the area, the team made sure to consider the movement patterns and needs of aquatic animals. The facility’s caves and rock holes invite inhabitants to hide and sneak in, and there are also ergonomically shaped sleeping and resting areas.

Design for zoo animals and visitors

In addition to creating a design that ensures animal welfare, Stanley also works to create the best management conditions for the zoo and the best experience conditions for visitors. For this project, that goal translated into colorful fisherman’s houses, a jetty and lighthouse, a dune landscape and colorful buoys – giving visitors the feeling of taking a real trip through the coastal habitat of animals. .

For Stanley and his team, the idea is to create a place where the client can “become one” with the environment, through the careful design of the installation and the introduction of storytelling techniques. As a result, visitors are emotionally primed to engage in new experiences and be touched by the beauty and uniqueness of flora and fauna. For the zoo, it helps to better connect visitors with important educational topics about species conservation.

Osnabrück Water Worlds Zoo

Speaking about the new habitat of the Aquatic Worlds and the visitor experience inside, Stanley says:

“The basic idea is, of course, to build a species-appropriate house for the animals with large enclosures. In addition, we create a Nordic experience landscape with dunes, artificial beaches and rocks, as well as architecture and vegetation derived from the northern coasts, so that visitors can immerse themselves in this world and be part of it.

“For the youngest, there is a maritime-style play area to let off steam. Technology and animal stables are also integrated into the landscape as Norse fishing huts.

“Another highlight is the underwater view. Under a pier with a beacon, visitors can “dive” between sea lions and seals and become part of the underwater world. Even families with strollers and people with disabilities can have fun, because all paths are of course designed to be barrier-free.

The team also had to ensure that Water Worlds was integrated into the existing environment of the zoo. Now, from the terrace of the zoo’s restaurant, visitors can directly contemplate the new habitat, offering a moment of relaxation observing the animals while taking a break in the restaurant. For this zoo, this also leads to extended visits.

Try the challenge

Before the construction of the new habitat, however, the existing area of ​​Humboldt penguins and rosy pelicans, as well as the children’s land, had to be demolished. More than 4,500 cubic meters of earth were removed to create space for the six sea lion and seal pools, dug to a depth of four meters.

Then around 750 meters of raw and clean water pipes and 15 working pumps were installed, before the pools were poured with concrete. This is followed by finishing work, such as siding and wood construction, and then landscaping.

Durability was also a key consideration. The habitat uses innovative filtration technology for the huge pools of water, with fiber balls which mean the water only needs to be changed every one to two years. This will save about 10 million liters per year. In addition, the project was able to preserve old trees nearby, while successfully exploiting all possible synergies with existing buildings.

Aquatic worlds_Zoo Osnabrück

The project lasted just over a year, despite some challenges, as Stanley explains:

“The challenge was the tight schedule due to funding and also the limited space on site. However, we managed to both use the space efficiently and create a special setting with a lot of style that takes visitors away from their everyday life into a holiday atmosphere,”

Tendering and project management were carried out by the architectural and engineering office pbr Planungsbüro Rohling AG on behalf of dan pearlman.

Water Worlds is the zoo’s largest project to date. Economics Minister of Lower Saxony, Dr Bernd Althusmannsaid at the opening of the habitat, which was financed with the support of funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the N-Bank of Lower Saxony:

“The new facilities at Osnabrück Zoo promise to be even more attractive for visitors, but also more animal welfare and environmental protection. They are creative, innovative, sustainable and therefore service-oriented. I am very happy that the state of Lower Saxony has contributed to the continued success of Osnabrück Zoo. »

The company is also working on the new rhino pagoda at berlin zoowhich provides environmentally rewarding activities for animals and visitors, using creative and immersive design.


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