The entire virtual exhibition “Staged Nature: ZOO OF ZOOS” is an opportunity to discover the zoological gardens’ genesis and evolution, and to raise the question of their role in our contemporary cities. The exhibit’s structure is continuously playing on the dichotomy architecture and function. During the design, we followed three main steps: analysis, observation and proposal. Indeed, each of them finds a correspondence in one exhibition block: past, present and future.

Staged Nature: Zoo of Zoos” questions the canons, meanings and forms of the traditional zoological gardens

there is the need of an urgent transformation, in terms of concept, structure and objectives.

The PAST block hosts the analysis results and it aims to interpret the original project by Raul Lino, which gathers elements of architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture and decorative arts. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Art Library hosts more than 500 original drawings of the project, including plans, technical construction details, reports and letters.


The PRESENT block – which results from direct observation – intends to understand the zoo of today. First, we’ve created an architecture itinerary to discover the original pavilions and their current use. We’ve then focused on what the Zoological Garden of Lisbon means for local citizens in terms of personal and collective memory.

Finally, in the FUTURE block, we envision the previous discussions into possible development scenarios of the Lisbon Zoological Garden. How will it be the zoo of the future? Will it still exist? And how it will look like? Three “Postcards from the future” materialize the reflections and speculations of the many people involved in this project and, hopefully, they can represent a starting point for future discussion.

As architects, planners, landscapers, but mostly as citizens, tourists, humans, we agreed that the former model of zoos has no space in our contemporary cities anymore. But what’s next?

And you, why do you stare at animals?