STAGED NATURE · Zoo of zoos

design, research

“Staged Nature – Zoo of Zoos” offers an opportunity to reflect on the role of the zoos and zoological gardens on our contemporary cities, with a special focus on the Lisbon Zoo the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula.

The zoo originally was located in the Parque de S. Sebastião – where today are Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation headquarters – and later transferred to Quinta das Laranjeiras (1905), with the project of the Portuguese architect Raul Lino built between 1935 and 1972.

“Staged Nature” by pais(vi)agem and Mies. TV

Through a continuous chronological parallelism between past-present-future – which will become the fil rouge that joins all the elements of the virtual exhibition – the idea is to understand how this specific typology evolved into the current century and to answer the main questions: Is there a reason to still have zoos in 2020? Which are the new components and necessities of staging the nature in an urban environment?

The chronological tool lays a fundamental role in creating a narrative which connects the past (the architect’s original project), the present (current tendencies and perspective of various key figures involved) and future (which are the possibilities of regeneration for tomorrow). During the entire expo, we will fluctuate continuously between these three spheres of time in order to offer different views on the same architectural space.

The Lisbon Zoo project map by the architect Raul Lino / courtesy of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

“Staged Nature – Zoos of Zoos” is a virtual exhibition curated by Enrico Porfido and Claudia Sani – país(vi)agem – with Arian Lehner and Theresa Margraf – Mies.TV. The projects aims to fulfill three main objectives through visual displaying:

· PAST / Valorizing the architecture of Raul Lino with a selection of his drawings of the Lisbon zoo from the archive of Gulbenkian Art Library.
· PRESENT / Understanding the status quo and diverse views of people related to the zoo with a series of targeted interviews, generating debate and thoughts.
· FUTURE / Based on the interviews’ results, to draw future scenarios.

The exhibition will be inaugurated in October 2020. More information are available here.


The virtual exhibition “Staged Nature – Zoos of Zoos” is curated by Enrico Porfido and Claudia Sani – pais(vi)agem – and Arian Lehner and Theresa Margarf – @miestvcom. This is an initiative of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation as a member of the Future Architecture Platform, a project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

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