Gelada enclosure at Rotterdam Zoo

Gelada residence Blijdorp

The project

In Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp), the former carnivore house, a national monument designed by Sybold van Ravesteyn, has been converted into the Gelada enclosure. Unique to the Netherlands, this outdoor habitat for Gelada baboons offers maximum viewing opportunities in a natural environment.


The main supporting structure consists of two large steel bows reaching 12.5 metres high and five smaller bows. Steel cables hold the bows in place while the new roof of the monumental building maintains the balance.

The challenge

As a national monument, the building had to be restored to its original state while integrating new insights concerning animal welfare and health and safety requirements. The challenge lay in uniting the amended requirements and objectives while preserving the monumental character. The restoration included addressing maintenance backlogs, damage repair, and enhancing the attraction’s value while maintaining historical integrity. The solution comprises steel bows, steel cables, and transparent nets that allow for an open outdoor space and imitate the natural habitat of the Geladas.

The impact

Sustainability was a central theme in the design of the Gelada enclosure. The existing monumental structure was preserved as much as possible, and the design also incorporates sustainable technologies for the monumental building. Green roofs, heat pumps, and solar collectors were integrated to optimise energy management while retaining the open and monumental character of the building. As a result, both the Geladas and the monumental building are maximally visible, and the Geladas are free to roam as they please with no means of escape.

Bow structure of the Gelada enclosure

Curious about the possibilities for your project?

Jeroen, managing director Buildings, would be delighted to discuss this with you! Get in touch via  +31 88 943 3500 or send a message.

Send Jeroen a message
Jeroen Pahud de Mortanges