The Yukon Bay experience
In the beginning, it was only a dream. One inspiring place with the pureness of the wild Alaska that, through architecture, could be a place of enrichment for humans, animals and nature.
Then, it became a vision. In the center of Europe, in the Hanover Zoo, a holistic dreamland should be built, a place where humans and animals can be side by side and experience the balance of nature.
A 22,000 sqm area would recreate in detail the Canadiana landscape of Yukon Bay, the land in the edge of the Arctic. :: dan pearlman experience architecture office studied in detail the Canadian landscape and through creativity, sustainable technologies and architecture, gave it life.
Man always wanted adventure. The most brilliant and turbulent moments in history were originated by this feeling. Today, most of us live in cities created by man, under social, political and economic circumstances imagined by great minds. All of this is admirable. But we also lost. The scenery around us can make us forget that we are human beings, and that the connection with nature and animals is part of our basic needs. We are all part of a global chain that needs to be balanced.
It is certain that we reached a turning point in the worlds history. Global warming, diseases caused by our own food, endangered species. However, today, we have the technology, the materials and the wisdom that did not exist in other times. And we can wish to be one with nature again. Yukon Bay project show us that today it is possible to build artificial environments wich can create awareness for the protection of the real ecosystem, through actions and lessons.
Yukon Bay visitors will be capable to look straight into the eyes of animals and discover feelings that could never be experienced on urban environments. Children will learn by edutaintment, and create a bond with nature and animals that will sparkle their interest in becoming environment conscious adults. Priceless seeds to a sustainable future.
The project started by a detailed research. In the 21th century, technology, sustainability and architecture can join forces to create a protected almost natural environment.
From May 2010, Yukon Bay will be the home of 100 animals of 15 species: polar bears, wolves, forest bison, sunglasses and rockhopper penguins, sea lions, grey seals, marine pelicans, turkeys, prairie dogs, red squirrels, snow owls and sandhill cranes. The visitors also have the chance to meet caribous and Northern fur seals, unique in Europe.
In 1896, gold was discovered in the harsh Yukon Territory, Alaska, Canada. For two wild years Yukon area was consumed by “the gold fever”. People from all over the world traveled in search of wealth. Most of them failed to find. But another treasure was discovered: a land with Arctic climate, cold winters and long sunshine hours in short summer that allowed hardy crops and vegetables, along with a profusion of rare flowers and fruits to blossom. Wildlife and na ture observation were exceptional and a wide variety of large mammals, birds, and fish were easily accessible. An untouched pristine nature.
All details of the pure Canadian landscape were carefully placed to transport the visitor into the lost forests, the old mines and the fresh port of Yukon Bay. The elements of the animal habitats were designed to reach comfort and authenticity: more than 200 large trees, newly planted, reflect the authentic Yukon vegetation, topography and landscape.
"You will feel immersed in a completely different world” said Kieran Stanley, manager of dan pearlman experience architecture, specialized in the development, planning and design of complex themed environments. Designing and creating stimulating environments is the speciality of :: dan pearlman experience architecture and the agency work consists in the constant creation of new stories and their authentic realization.
A team of about twenty experts worked hard to make this world a reality, imitating the creation of nature. Numerous elements of construction and operation are hidden on an adventure that seems simple in the eyes of visitors.
Like in the bustling port of Yukon Bay, a town with colourful houses in typical Canadian wood construction that was designed by different architects, with unique visions, to enhance the individuality of the construction. Here, the visitors are in a Canadian town, and can rest in the numerous facilities for children, food and shop that, off course, are included in the overall concept.
From there, playful polar bears can be observed. In the horizon, a lighthouse appears. It is the home of the snowy owls, who also have a real tree with retreat possibilities and natural soil. The prairie dogs live near by. This scenery is surrounded by the forest, which stretches from the Canadian side to the port town of Yukon.
Located in the harbour is one of the highlights of the project, the expired old cargo ship Yukon Queen, which was converted into a penguin zoo. Here, the visitors have the opportunity to experience unique insights into the lives of the animals of the Arctic: on the right is the pool, where the seals swim. The captain of the wrecked ship has opened the northernmost zoo in the freighter into a unique underwater station. Large windows, designed with special technologies of isolation and compact structures, created to reduce the distance between animals and visitors, show the seals, penguins and polar bears under water. The pool includes a wave system, different depth levels and jump and dive possibilities, where the animals can train the swimming or be challenged by the fish traps.
A total of 15,000 sqm of soil was moved to build the 14,000 m3 sub-aquatic animals saltwater pool. Additionally, 10,000 m3 of concrete and almost 2,500 tons of steel were used. Through modern equipment and isolation, spread cross 2,500 sqm of construction volume, the zoo´s water consumption was lowered by 50%.
The enclosure respects the natural spaces and living conditions of each species and the project includes elements and measures which stimulate and encourage the animals positively. The protection of endangered species and the inclusion of special techniques of breeding, which is the case of the polar bears, is also a function of this project. Also, the new facilities in the Hanover Zoo offer the animal’s many times larger habitats, which are equipped according to the latest sustainable design. Balance for humans, environment and animals.
Animals in zoos, aquariums and museums play a powerful part in our cultural and formal education. Despite that humans are inherently interested in nature, the routines of the urban lifestyle fuels a lack of knowledge that is concerning in a world beset by environmental problems, where species are disappearing at an alarming rate.
To visit projects like Yukon Bay make us return to reestablish ties with the balance of nature and makes it difficult be indifferent to the environment and animals in our daily lives, becoming more conscious individuals.
We need people to understand the changes taking place in our natural systems and appreciate that each of our actions has an impact. More interest and knowledge is essential. Yukon Bay fuels the connection between humans and nature, and is capable of changing minds and actions. This is important for the future or our world.