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Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park, Zurich – Influenced by Ulrich Finsterwalder

On 7 June 2014, the Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park was opened at the Zurich Zoo. In addition to the impressive elephant house, the new park also includes a large outdoor area for the animals and has been designed to resemble the natural habitat of elephants.

The roof of the elephant house consists of an innovative, cantilever wooden structure with a diameter of 85 m in which 271 openings are irregularly arranged to let in daylight. The plywood shell structure includes a circumferential ringwall opening consisting of post-tensioned concrete that connects the few local abutments with each other. As a result, the prestressed ringwall absorbs the forces from the shell and transfers them into the foundation.

Ulrich Finsterwalder Engineering Award for wide span dome

The engineers Walt + Galmarini received the 14th Engineering Award/ Ulrich Finsterwalder Engineering Award 2015 for the innovative, wide span dome. This important award is presented every other year to a construction project characterized by exceptional engineering services. The Ulrich Finsterwalder Engineering Award is dedicated to one of the outstanding engineers of the 20th century who carried out important developments in prestressed concrete as an executive employee of Dyckerhoff & Widmann.

Out of 46 projects, the jury unanimously chose the elephant park as the winning project because it impressively fulfilled all of the criteria for winning the award. Works by Ulrich Finsterwalder such as the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena that was built with the world's first reinforced concrete dome in 1926 or the 1929 market hall in Basel that was repaired by the engineers Walt + Galmarini in 2012 are considered as models for the novel wood structure.

Micropiles prevent settlings of water basins

The micropiles anchoring the elephant house in the soil also go back to one of Dr Finsterwalder's inventions. For the foundation of the spectacular dome structure, the DSI licensee SpannStahl AG supplied pre-grouted, double corrosion protected, ST S670 GEWI® Plus Micropiles. The micropiles were particularly needed for the foundation of the water basins so that they would not experience any settling due to the high loads. The supply included 21 micropiles, each 12 m long, complete with accessories. Drilling and installation of the GEWI® Plus Micropiles was carried out by the company Greuter AG in Hochfelden, Switzerland.

In comparison to the old site, the new elephant park offers more room for the elephants and allows visitors to get closer to the animals. The different watering holes and water basins play a central part: Visitors can observe the swimming and plunging elephants through a glass pane in the indoor area.


Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (2014)

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