The penguin pool was one of the most dramatic structures built within the Zoo. 3 years earlier Tecton had designed the famous penguin pool at London Zoo, the influence of which can be seen within the design.
The kidney-shaped pool was built at road level allowing visitors a level view of the penguins whilst looking down on the water below. Constructed over two levels, the tank and lower platform are linked to the upper platform by two outer curving ramps and two more curving steps, centrally located. These were designed to look as if pieces of the upper platform had been cut and allowed to drop down to the level below. Both upper and lower platforms had fluid, organic forms, their edges undulating to create interesting forms and create places where the penguins could dive into the water below. To the rear of the lower platform were the nesting boxes. Small circular concrete platforms created ‘islands’ seemingly floating within the water. The poolside slabs and floating islands were covered with a rubber-cement composition. The Architectural Review at the time reporting that ‘hygienic artificial slabs, ramps, steps and floating island are provided, the slabs being rubber covered to protect the penguins feet from soreness’.
The rear of the structure was enclosed with a solid concrete wall, gently curving with the shape of the platforms. The sloping site enabled access behind the enclosure where a long observation window was set into the opposite side of the building, enabling visitors to watch the birds swimming underwater.
In 1979, the penguin pool and enclosure were demolished. The salt water in the pool had reacted with the steel reinforcement in the building’s concrete, causing extensive corrosion.