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Macaw cages at the Barcelona zoo

Macaw cages in the palm grove of the zoo.

Gàbies per guacamais al zoo de Barcelona
Gàbies per guacamais al zoo de Barcelona

Macaw cages at the Barcelona zoo

The palm grove in Ciutadella Park is a small garden of barely 1,500 m2 , comprising a large collection of tropical palm trees and leafy arboreal vegetation. As part of the zoo installations, the palm grove has always been used as a habitat for the macaw collection. Its out-of-the-way location and the noisy, colourful presence of the birds make it a charming corner, an exotic oasis within the park and a unique spot in the city.

Authors

Batlleiroig Arquitectura. Enric Batlle Durany, Joan Roig i Duran – Architect

Team

Francesc Puig – Architect / Elena Mostazo – Agricultural engineer and landscape architect

Collaborators

STATIC Ingeniería – Structural engineering

Location

Construction company

Copisa

Project status

Built

Start date

2008

Finish date

2008

Total area

1.375 m2

Awards

WAF 2009 – Gàbies Guacamais Zoo
© Eva Serrats
© Eva Serrats

The immediate construction of a sports pavilion adjacent to the palm grove called for the redefi nition of its limits and the remodelling of obsolete cages, and was also an opportunity to extend the macaw collection and reorganize its exhibition to the public. Rather than the more naturalistic approach used by some zoos in an attempt to make the bird’s habitat in captivity similar to its natural environment, our proposal set out to recreate a garden full of cages containing exotic birds, like those built on their properties by the Indianos, entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in the Americas, in the mid-19th century, like Samà Park in Tarragona or Castanys Tower in Olot, both designed by Josep Fontseré, who also designed Ciutadella Park. The cage was designed in close collaboration with the zoo’s specialists. The total surface area of each is 21.5 m2 , of which 14.40 m2 is on view to the public and the rest concealed, with 5.20 m2 for sleeping quarters and 4.90 m2 for a maintenance passage.

© Eva Serrats

The main structure of the cage is made of a mesh of cylindrical tubes that close on each other to form a metal “sheaf”. The need for different degrees of transparency determined the varying qualities of the outer enclosure. The area in which the birds are on show is enclosed by electro-welded mesh except at the front, where a large window offers good views of the macaws. The sleeping quarters and maintenance passage are enclosed by wooden slats in different colors. The cage has two entrances, one leading into the exhibition area and the other into the maintenance passage that surrounds the sleeping quarters, allowing carers to do their work without being seen by the public or having to enter the cage.

The project concentrated on designing a sufficiently complex cage that could be repeated, using the public path to organize the garden. The main criterion was to ensure that the apparently random arrangement of the cages offered different viewpoints for the public, presenting the enclosure as a free, picturesque, and constantly surprising system. They are inserted informally in the palm grove, standing out as exotic elements while respecting the isolation of the site.

© Eva Serrats