Jörg Schneider speaks at ZooDesignConference in WroclawApril 4, 2017
Jörg, you have been a project manager at dan pearlman for three months. How does the new challenge feel?
I’ve been with dan pearlman for ten years now and, as a project architect for landscape architecture, I was more focused on content. Since January my perspective has changed. Suddenly I’m responsible for managing and maintaining an overview of the entire project. Self-organization plays a much greater role. In addition to time and resource planning, I’m also responsible for leading a team and making sure the client’s expectations are met. I really like the change in roles.
What fascinates you about zoo architecture?
I’m particularly interested in how the animals interact with the landscape at the zoo and I really enjoy designing exciting natural landscape enclosures and adapting them as much as possible to the needs of the particular animal species.
It’s interesting that the animals, since they are fed at the zoo and don’t have to hunt, often don’t have difficulties with the limited amount of space they view as their own domain once a certain minimum enclosure-size is met. Even in the wild they run up against the edges of their territory.
Nevertheless, we of course want to offer the animals the structural elements they would find in nature. We therefore always incorporate into the design a number of options for retreat and moving around, lookout spots and trees for climbing, and try to offer the animals as much variety as possible with streams, spots for digging or various ground surfaces. The landscape is designed to stimulate and nurture the animals.
You’re going to the ZooDesignConference in Wroclaw tomorrow with Kieran. What is your talk about?
On day one, Kieran will present an overview of zoo evolution and the role that design plays.
My talk will focus on the details of designing enclosures and will address how to integrate living plants so that they serve the needs of the animals. Frequently zoo enclosures have a natural feel but in fact they’re not since, for instance, actual plants have to be protected against biting or other damage. Plants are therefore only part of the scenery. For the monkey exhibit at the Hanover Adventure Zoo, which will open in summer, we combined real, particularly robust plants, deadwood elements and replicas of trees, connecting everything together with vines, so that the monkeys are able to engage with all the elements in their enclosure. The selected tree species have certain properties, for instance, they’re inedible, but not poisonous, bite-resistant, grow quickly, are flexible, robust and / or can handle nitrogen resulting from exposure to the animals’ urine. These aspects are also a part of behavioural and environmental enrichment.