Monday, October 31, 2011

A Wood Railing


Recently I came across this photo of a red haired woman homo sapiens and her red haired Irish Setter Canis lupus familiaris standing on red bark mulch and watching a group of red haired orangutans Pongo pygmaeus.



I took these photos at the Allwetterzoo in Münster, Germany.

Many German Zoos allow you to bring your dog on to the grounds -  just as you can bring your dog into most restaurants (Who needs a doggy bag?).

This is what you see if you stand directly at the railing and look into the exhibit.
view from the railing into exhibit
And here you can see what the railing looks like in the winter without so many visitors.
You might have noticed how comfortably the woman with the dog was leaning on the handrail (it's a real tree) and how the glass allowed for easy viewing into the exhibit even from further back .

The glass railing makes it especially easy for children in strollers to look into the exhibit.
This photo shows the railing from the exhibit side. It's good to see how much the visitors enjoy leaning on a real wood handrail.
What makes the railing unusual is that the glass and the handrail aren't in the same plane.
Photo above: the handrail sits in front of the glass pane, keeping the visitors about a foot back from the glass. And keeping sunglasses and babies from falling into the exhibit. It may also help to keep the glass cleaner.
It's about a four meter drop from the top of the railing into the moat. The moat is the playground for the otters.

Real wood feels great to touch and never gets too hot, but it does rot, and I'm not thrilled to see this detail where the wood connects directly with the concrete:
However, this could easily be fixed. And fixed in a way that the branches can be changed as they wear out.

When you scroll through all the photos you'll notice that some of the railings have bark and some are bare. The railings had bark when the exhibit opened, but three years later I visited and they were bare. Depending on the visitors, peeling bark - and throwing it into the exhibit - could be an issue.
However, wood is aesthetically pleasing. This photo shows another railing at the same exhibit. A standard aluminum handrail would have been artificial and distracting here.

The wood handrail keeps the colors and materials in the exhibit to a minimum and the focus on the animals.



The design was done by Rasbach Architekten in Oberhausen, Germany. I worked on this exhibit before I left Germany for the US. You can read more about the exhibit at zoo-lex.org.

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