February 28, 2011

Participants „in the lion’s den“

Photograph: Robert Wehdorn-Roithmayr (c)

A field trip brought the participants of the Membrane Lightweight Structures class to a place which is quite unusual for a university program: the lion’s den at the zoo at Schönbrunn.

The lion’s den and the historical entrance “Wolfskassa” into the zoo at Schönbrunn are located at the big baroque axis which leads diagonally from the Emporer’s Breakfast Pavillon to Schönbrunn Palace. The building stock goes back to the enlargement of the zoo in the 19th century, a majority of the buildings being constructed after the 1930ies.

This is where Wehdorn Architects planned a steal construction for the lion’s den in the year 2002: a challenge both from an architectural point of view as well as regarding the construction. The enclosure of the Barbary Lions covers about 700m2. The cable net structure has two pylons and resembles a tent. All in all around 1.100 m2 net cover the enclosure. The membrane construction has been developed using formfinder – a software which is also taught in courses of the university program.

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