African savannah at Dresden Zoo - giraffes and zebras

Gehege © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Giraffen und Zebras vor der Parkkulisse des Großen Gartens © 2011 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Tierbeobachtung © 2011 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Im Dickicht © 2009 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Giraffen im Sandloch © 2009 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Afrikone als Informationsquelle © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Spähbaum © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Spähbaum © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Im Innern des Spähbaums © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

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Gehege © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Giraffen und Zebras vor der Parkkulisse des Großen Gartens © 2011 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Tierbeobachtung © 2011 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Im Dickicht © 2009 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Giraffen im Sandloch © 2009 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Afrikone als Informationsquelle © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Spähbaum © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Spähbaum © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

Im Innern des Spähbaums © 2008 Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten

In order to create the impression of spatial expanse in the giraffe enclosure, the impressive park backdrop of the Großer Garten was used as a visual extension of the zoo. Tongues of land were inserted into the open-air enclosure as an extension of the existing visitor paths, allowing deep insights into the enclosure. This gives the visitor the impression of being right among the animals. The enclosure zones are themed, such as savannah, waterhole or bushland, to show the animals in their typical environment. A lookout tree makes it possible to observe the giraffes at eye level through the treetops.

The old zoo entrance to the new zoo window has been revived for walkers in the Great Garden. Walkers can whet their appetite for a visit to Dresden Zoo through small keyholes in the gate.

The location - concept

Due to its central inner-city location and direct proximity to the "Großer Garten", Dresden Zoo has no opportunity to expand spatially. However, the neighborhood to the "Großer Garten" offered the unique opportunity to use the impressive park scenery as a visual extension of the zoo.

The aim of the design was to bring the "Großer Garten" into the zoo as a visual extension in order to "experience space".

The urban location of the new giraffe house was of immense importance.

The new giraffe house was placed on the northern boundary of the enclosure to the "Great Garden".

Between the giraffe house and the existing terrarium, the outdoor enclosure forms a new open space that allows the animals to experience "width and space". The animals are presented in front of the "Great Garden" and the "savannah architecture" of the giraffe house.

A further enclosure can be created by repositioning the reptile house in the future. This will create an enclosure ensemble with African themes against the backdrop of the Great Garden. The operating areas of a new building can be cleverly accessed via those of the lion enclosure.

The new giraffe enclosure is spatially subordinate to Lenné's original park design. The large garden serves as a backdrop and, with its trees, is the visual extension for the enclosure. The outdoor facilities are an interpretation of an African landscape, with the visitor areas and enclosure forming a single unit. There are no sharp dividing lines, such as fences.

Outdoor enclosure - experience space

The outdoor enclosure is the interpretation of an African landscape. The planting and equipment are also based on this principle. The enclosure has not been fenced in the traditional sense. Dry trenches 1.20 m deep in the look of a cut in the ground prevent the animals from escaping.

Visitors can approach the animals via winding paths through scrubland. As an extension of the existing visitor paths, "tongues of land" have been inserted into the open-air enclosure, providing a deep insight into the enclosure. The viewer has the impression of being right among the animals. The headland at the waterhole offers a special view of the enclosure. Grasses and stones define the impression of space here. The enclosure itself is a dry grassland area with a waterhole and a bird island as a retreat and breeding area for wading birds as well as two 5.50 m high feeding trees, which the giraffes use to feed.

The enclosure zones between the "tongues of land" have been given themes such as waterhole, bushland or scout tree. This gives visitors the chance to observe the animals in a particular environment or from a particular height.

In the bushland, visitors can "stalk" their way through the savannah to observe the animals. Thematically selected plants with silvery leaves and thorns characterize the space.

The front enclosures directly adjacent to the buildings were used to temporarily shield the animals. Wood-clad fences enclose them on the enclosure side.

The crossroads between the new lion savannah and the giraffe enclosure has been transformed into an Africa square. The tracks of African animals are embedded in the ground here. Just like on a safari, you can search for and recognize the tracks and assign them to the respective animals.

The amorphous shapes of tropical tree trunks were quoted for the furnishing elements, the Africons. They were produced using squared timber made from durable larch wood, which was glued into blocks and also bolted together. Depending on the intention, the resulting bodies serve as stools, climbing aids, elevated vantage points, benches or as a medium for the discreet infotainment of African themes. The color scheme is based on the overall concept. The lookout tree erected at the edge of the enclosure is a replica of an old tree stump in which you can climb up and observe the giraffes eye to eye.

Due to the removal of the old feeding station, the enclosure fencing at the Goral had to be rebuilt. The existing theme of a rock face was taken up and recreated.

For the "hiker" in the Great Garden, the old zoo entrance was revitalized as the new "zoo window". A wooden footbridge leads the walker over the Kaitzbach stream to the enclosure fence. Through small "keyholes" in the gate, hikers can whet their appetite for a visit to Dresden Zoo.

Play tower and viewing platform

An architectural use of wood can be seen in the open space. The 4.50 meter high "play tower" is clad with the same material as the façade of the building, but in a more intense color. The shape of this special object is reminiscent of the stump of a baobab tree standing alone in the savannah. And this "baobab" is also hollow. Inside, a steel staircase leads to a viewing platform, and a number of ropes can be climbed as "guide bundles". The relatively bold coloring indicates the playful, active character of the tower. This is an explicit design goal, especially for the period immediately after completion of the enclosure, when the planting is not yet fully developed and the enclosure may still appear "unfinished" to the visitor.


The playful experience of nature, getting to know the "home landscape" of giraffes and zebras is a topic that primarily affects the educational tasks of the zoo. Here, too, it is always the material wood that makes it possible to build a bridge from the African original to the European replica. The pictorial, sculpturally exaggerated use of the material establishes very concrete references without, however, obscuring the modern context. This approach gave rise to the "Africons", specially designed furnishing elements that give the outdoor areas a special character. The shape of the objects is derived from individually grown tree trunks and take on a wide variety of functions. These elements are made from glued and bolted larch wood.

Seat trunk and climbing trunk

The largest of these elements is the 5.50 meter long and 1.50 meter high "seat trunk". This was also partially prefabricated, then transported to the construction site and only "completed" after installation. A special "climbing trunk" was developed to give smaller zoo visitors a good overview. Several wooden pins were inserted into the glued objects to make it easy to climb up. The information elements for the enclosure were also created in the same design style. The world of zebras and giraffes can be discovered in them in an unusual way. For this purpose, the upper part of the wooden object was rotated to reveal the images and lettering underneath, which were applied to the surface with weather-resistant film.

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Planning offices

Rehwaldt Landscape Architects

Sebastian Fauck (Projektleitung)
Mattes Hoffmann

Further planners involved
Heinle Wischer und Partner

Project period
2007 - 2008

0,35 ha

Zoo Dresden GmbH



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Project type
Parks and green spaces
Playgrounds, e.g. at childcare centers and schools