The Panda Pavilions Zoo / EID Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. Chengdu National Giant Panda Research and Breeding Center, the world’s leading research institute on panda preservation, has recently completed a significant campus expansion in a national preservation park near the outskirts of Chengdu, China. Designed by Ping Jiang, FAIA, of EID Architecture, a group of four panda pavilions has been newly opened to the public after experiencing some delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These pavilions are built to become the research lab to house and study pandas’ behaviors and activities. It also serves the community for educational and recreational purposes, while attracting millions of panda lovers annually to visit the campus.
The panda pavilions are devoted to fostering a cross-disciplinary collaboration as a care center for the giant pandas. The design is organized around four open-air circular courtyards which serve as an outdoor playground for the bears while providing a continuous connection with nature. Aimed at educating, entertaining, and inspiring a diverse audience from around China and across the world, the panda pavilions will bring a unique cultural experience that blends science, education, art, and entertainment.
“ The design of the panda pavilions concerned with the integration of human experience, architecture, and environment. It is intended as a convergence of architecture, landscape, and land art. While the project provides a pedestrian-friendly navigation experience for the visitors, it prioritizes an animal-friendly environment to minimize the alienation of ecology, promoting biodiversity conservation.” – Ping Jiang, FAIA, Design Principal
Inspired by the natural landscape of Chengdu’s prairies, these panda pavilions are conceived as a fusion of architecture and landscape. The four ring-shaped pavilions nestle into the park’s woodland slopes, enclosing terraced outdoor space for pandas. Connecting pathways and bermed viewing galleries provide visitors with varied vantage points for observing pandas at relatively close range, but always with physical boundaries separating panda space and human space.
Rising above the topography in places and sinking into it in others, the pavilions’ rings house panda indoor activity spaces and living quarters, along with staff administrative areas and support spaces such as rooms for preserving and storing the bamboo shoots that are central to the panda diet. In addition, the pavilions provide interactive exhibitions and educational spaces designated for panda research and preservation.
Integrating a habitat for the animals and a behavioral research lab for scientists, the panda pavilions are designed to create an immersive experience of exploration and discovery for the visitors. These pavilions embrace their natural surroundings, integrating themselves with the topography of the conservation base.
The pavilion facades feature vertical articulations of wood-grained aluminum fins, reflecting the vertical rhythms of the surrounding bamboo grove. These buildings are organized into three zones: open, semi-open, and fully air-conditioned areas. Approximately 55% percent of the building area adopted natural ventilation to lower the energy consumption and carbon footprint, as a result, it contributed to creating a series of eco-friendly breathing architecture.