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c/o Canadian Architect


Nature's Wild Backyard will be comprised of 4 zones where visitors can explore how animals make their homes under, on, between and above the surface. Each area will be layered with play and educational activities.  

The “Above" Zone will transport visitors into the spectacular tree canopy so they can explore the world of species that fly, leap and climb including lemurs, red pandas, gibbons, and exotic birds. The Backyard will also renew and upgrade guest amenities that have reached the end of their lifespan such as washrooms, concession and carousel. [1] 

Immersive landscapes are those in which animals and humans alike are enveloped by a common habitat. This approach erases the boundaries and hierarchical divisions between animals and visitors found at conventional zoos. By engaging animals on their own terms and in their own habitats, visitors are better able to understand the high degree of interconnectivity between themselves, the animals they are viewing, and the world around them. (…) 

The children’s geography is an experiential or cognitive map that reflects heightened moments of emotion within the promenade that resonate within a child’s long term memory. This mapping isn’t definitive or quantifiable: instead, the map is an accumulation of moments of engagement with the habitats and the animals that create a disproportionate effect on a child’s perception of the environment. As well, moments of parallel play act to buttress a child’s imagination by providing moments of adrenaline where they can pretend to be one of the animals on exhibit by mimicking similar physical acts. [2]


Canadian Architect, Award of Excellence, 2017


[1]   “Nature's Wild Backyard Project.” City of Edmonton. Accessed May 29, 2021. https://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/edmonton_valley_zoo/natures-wild-backyard.aspx.

[2]     “Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, 2017.” Canadian Architect, 2017. https://s3-ca-central-1.amazonaws.com/cdnarchitect/2019/04/07145904/2-Above-Excellence.pdf.

Additional information

“Edmonton Valley Zoo: ABOVE.” Canadian Architect, April 7, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/edmonton-valley-zoo-above/.

“Edmonton Valley Zoo: Above.” Canadian Architect, December 2017.

Keegan, Edward. “Edmonton Valley Zoo Children's Precinct – The Above Zone, by The Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative.” Architect, March 8, 2020. https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/edmonton-valley-zoo-childrens-precinct-the-above-zone_o.

“Revitalization.” Valley Zoo Development Society, February 27, 2021. https://www.buildingourzoo.com/revitalization/#natures-wild-backyard.

Project Title: Nature's Wild Backyard, Above Zone
Artists:  Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative (MBAC)
Place: Edmonton, AB

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