London: Penguin Pool, London Zoo (UK)

Penguin Pool, London Zoo

London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom

Lubetkin, Drake + Tecton (1933-34)

London Zoo Penguin Pool by Lubetkin, Drake + Tecton 14_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Hidden inside the London Zoo is a wondrous work of modernist architecture. The Penguin Pool by Berthold Lubetkin and his Tecton team, working with Ove Arup, is an inspired composition of geometric form, beautifully intertwining external barrier walls and internal penguin walkways, ramps and stair.

Berthold Lubetkin studied in St Petersburg and Moscow, crossing paths with Rodchenko, Tatlin and Malevich, before travelling to Great Britain where he became an early pioneer of the Modern Movement completing a series of houses, apartment blocks and public buildings including the Penguin Pool which was completed in 1934.

The building was completely renovated in 1987 however in 2004 the zoo decided to move the penguins out and create a new Penguin enclosure completed in 2011. The original Penguin Pool is a Grade 1 heritage listed building that cannot be changed or modified, and it appears the zoo is still to find a suitable new use for the structure.

London Zoo Penguin Pool by Lubetkin, Drake + Tecton 04_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Berthold Lubetkin book by John Allan published by MERRELL, London 2002

Should you wish to study Lubetkin’s work in far greater detail then you should track down the comprehensive monograph by John Allan published by Merrell in 2002, which might be found at or Amazon.


Further Information:

Place: Penguin Pool, London Zoo

Architect:  Lubetkin, Drake + Tecton (Design Museum, London)

Photographer: Stephen Varady (scans from slides)

Review: The Guardian (2004)Daily Mail (27 May 2011), ZSL (28 Oct 2015) and A+U 526

Map: London Zoo Map










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