Dudley Zoo

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430138_536448329725648_164685231_nModern Gazetteer: Dudley Zoo, Dudley (UK), 2013

Birmingham City University

Dudley Zoo opened in the spring of 1937. In a bold move, the young architectural practice Tecton were commissioned to design thirteen structures creating a series of concrete modernist structures that housed the animals and the public facilities.

In 1970 most of the structures were listed as buildings of special architectural or historic interest. However since the 1970s, many of these buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair, and in 2010 the World Monuments Fund added the structures to it’s ‘at risk’ register. Tamed With A Smile draws on the complex and layered history of this site and presents contemporary approaches to ideas of documentation and preservation from the collaborative practice of over forty BA Art & Design, BA and MArch in Architecture students from Birmingham City University.

Students from both disciplines have explored themes of decay, preservation and the legacy of European Modernism in Britain. Whist there is an undoubted romanticism associated with this decay, the students have demonstrated a rigorous commitment to understanding the structure’s origin, its history and its potential
future use.

The project takes on two forms through a publication and the installation of a temporary exhibition. The book presents strands of engagement in nine collaborative teams where students make imaginative and ambitious proposals for new structures to be built at the Zoo. Their brief was to make something that would in some way preserve or illuminate the existing structures and their legacy, but that could also support the display of other works of art and design.

The exhibition forms around one of the two kiosks design by Tecton with the elliptical plan imitated by three concentric rings of scaffolding – a component normally associated with reconstruction or demolition. Extracts from the book have been carefully selected to be suspended along the structure, creating a visual connection between the academic research and on site artefacts.

Client: Dudley Zoological Gardens

Mentoring: Bryant Priest Newman Architects, Eastside Projects

Design & Publication: An Endless Supply

Students: BA (Hons) Art & Design, BA (Hons) Architecture, M.Arch Architecture

Research Question: Investigate the legacy of the Dudley Zoo Tecton structures as primary examples of early British Modernist architecture to propose changes and preservation beyond their current use.

Links: Colab


+, 11-50, Analytical, Architecture, Art & Design, Birmingham City Univ., Collaboration, Curricular, Dudley, Extra-curricular, Months, Postgraduate, Self-funded, Students with tutor, Temporary, Undergraduate