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CASSON PAVILION

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ELEPHANT AND RHINOCEROS PAVILION, ELEPHANT AND RHINOCEROS PAVILION
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The Casson Pavilion at London Zoo was originally the Elephant and Rhinoceros Pavilion which was built in 1962-5 as a result of Sir Hugh Casson's 1958 redevelopment plan for the Zoo known as 'The New Zoo'. The style of the building has been described as 'zoomorphic New Brutalism, marvellously expressive of its inhabitants' and its conical copper roofs gave the impression from above of elephants gathering around a water-hole. Casson's design won him the 1965 RIBA award for the Best Building in London.

The first elephant house at London Zoo had been built by Decimus Burton in 1830-1831. A later Elephant and Rhinoceros House was designed by Anthony Salvin in 1868-69 on the site now occupied by the Charles Clore Pavilion for Mammals (Monument No: 1170118). In 1939 plans for a new building had been prepared by Tecton, but work had not started due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The present site was selected in 1950 and it became the main southern focus of the 1958 redevelopment. The building was developed following a brief by Desmond Morris, Curator of Mammals at the Zoo, by architects Sir Hugh Casson and Neville Conder and Partners. The landscape architecture was by Sir Peter Shepheard and it was built by John Mowlem and Company with engineers Jenkins and Potter.

It is built of reinforced concrete with ribbed walls and an inner brick structure with conical copper roofs. The concrete ribbed walls were designed to imitate an elephant's hide and also prevented the animals from damaging the building. The pens are arranged round a central hall so that the public move through the building at a lower level on an "S-shaped" route. The paddock pool was added in 1971 and in 1988 the Rhino moat was altered.

The elephants and rhinos have been moved to more spacious accomodation at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the pavilion now houses bearded pigs, camels and pygmy hippos.

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