Less a building



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Less a building: Interactions with the London Zoo Aviary



An artist's book by Michaela Nettell with: Marcela Aragüez, Tim Dee, Polly Gould, Phillip Hall-Patch, Alex Hartley, Julie F Hill, Owen Hopkins, Helen Jukes, Milena Michalski, Colin Priest, Ana Ruepp, Hadas Steiner, Karolina Szynalska and Matthew Turner

Publishing partner: Passengers | Designer: Marit Münzberg

"The aviary was less a building in the conventional sense than a set of spatial possibilities created by an inherently flexible structural system."
– Owen Hopkins, 2016


Realised by Cedric Price, Antony Armstrong-Jones and Frank Newby in the mid-1960s, the landmark London Zoo Aviary is known for its pioneering tensile structure, its immersive and sensory qualities and its architectural paradoxes of permanence/plasticity, transparency/opacity and openness/enclosure. 'Less a building' takes the hiatus of the aviary's redevelopment in the early 2020s as an opportunity to consider the structure anew, exposing it as a powerful catalyst for experimental thinking and making.

Ten site-responsive artworks and texts are presented alongside an in-depth roundtable between six architects, writers and academics, and documents from the Cedric Price and London Zoo archives. Posing questions around cultivated habitats and curated landscapes, and asking what the aviary has come to represent in architectural, zoological and environmental terms, the project proposes a set of new, interconnecting and open-ended readings of an important piece of twentieth century design to mark this pivotal moment in its history.