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.
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 AbeBooks.co.uk or Amazon.
Place: Penguin Pool, London Zoo
Photographer: Stephen Varady (scans from slides)
Map: London Zoo Map
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