The Panda House: A shining example of diplomacy


Photo: Rasmus Hjortshøj - COAST

How do you create a building to house two world-renowned pandas while also balancing on the cusp between different societies and ideals?

For BIG, the solution was to explore the yin and yang, a symbol representing balance and harmony. In its essence, the duality of the yin and yang teaches us that everything is understood in relation to its opposite. 
This project is full of duality: the contradictions between China and Denmark, between the ideals of our respective societies, between our nature and between our animals. Poetically speaking, the pandas are not just there to sit around and nibble bamboo on a hilltop in Valby. They’re there to inspire us to reflect on our contradictions and ourselves. What do we want, what do we think and who are we?
The project’s price tag rings in at DKK 160 million, plus the annual costs of hosting the two pandas at Copenhagen Zoo. The facility is located adjacent to the Elephant House, which was designed by Norman Foster. 

All of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the grand opening of the Panda House testified to its great importance. And so a project of this importance also calls for world class design.
BIG embraced the important and diplomatic challenge posed by the Panda House. They succeeded in designing a building that beautifully respects the history and culture of China. At the same time, it serves as a strong symbol of the differences between our countries and cultures. 
Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group in collaboration with landscape architecture firm Schønherr, the project resulted in a building perfectly tailored to the new local celebrities, who will live separately but must still have an awareness of the other’s presence. 
The building also houses a restaurant that gives patrons a view to the pandas, as well as to the elephants next door – a two-for-one experience! 

Fun facts

  • An adult panda can eat up to 40 kilos of bamboo every day. That’s 14 tons per year per panda! To ensure a sufficient supply of food for the pandas, approximately 5 hectares of bamboo have been planted in southern Zealand. 




BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group


Copenhagen Zoo