Projects

Hotel and Visitor Centre at Nyíregyháza Zoo - Hungary

A ceramic Pangea

The architecture of a large zoo explores the relationship with nature, using ceramic tiles to enhance form and function
Author
Alfredo Zappa
Architect
Attila Gáva (Gav-Art Studio)
Surfaces
COTTO D'ESTE
Year of completion
2018

Nyíregyháza, the hard-to-pronounce capital of the administrative county of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg in north-eastern Hungary, was until recently best known for its iconic Co-Cathedral of Our Lady of the Hungarians, a building famous for its twin spires and brick façade. However, following the establishment of Hungary’s most important zoo close to the Lake Sóstó recreation area, the city has now become an internationally-famous tourist destination and is a regular stop on many tour operators’ itineraries. In 2018, Sóstó Zooba won Europe’s best zoo award in the below-500,000 annual visitors category.
Housing more than 5,000 land animals from all over the world, the zoo recreates a kind of Pangea, the paleogeographic supercontinent that 290 million years ago made up the entire dry land mass of our planet.
For this reason, Pangea was chosen as the name of the zoo’s hotel, an establishment surrounded by a 35-hectare oak forest and offering thematic and immersive hospitality with rooms inspired by the most representative animal species housed in the zoo.
The Hungarian architect commissioned to design the hotel, Attila Gáva from the Gav-Art Stúdió Kft collective, wanted to create a building that would blend in harmoniously with the surrounding natural environment while adopting a contemporary language devoid of picturesque and neo-vernacular tendencies. For this reason he opted for a sequence of simple, rational volumes with a thin projecting roof supported by a full-height colonnade which in turn shelters and protects the jutting three-dimensional pattern of the guest room balconies.
Attila Gáva attached great importance to the choice of materials and finishings, opting for elements with natural and highly expressive surfaces that at the same time would deliver the exceptional quality, performance and durability typical of contemporary products. So when designing the rainscreen cladding of both Hotel Pangea and the zoo’s visitor centre, he chose Italian ceramic tiles with the highest aesthetic and technical quality: large-format ultra-thin Kerlite panels from Cotto d’Este.
The specific product chosen for the cladding of Hotel Pangea and the zoo entrance was Kerlite 5plus Forest panels, a collection inspired by wood in its most rustic and natural form complete with astonishingly realistic details such as the variations in roughness and relief typical of aged wood fibres. The architect chose to use the Rovere (oak) finish for the more than 1600 square metre rainscreen cladding of the hotel and the equally prestigious Noce (walnut) finish for the 400 square metres of the Visitor Centre.

Tiles
Cotto d'Este, Kerlite 5plus
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
300x100 cm
Colours
Forest - Rovere - Noce
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA-UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): conforme
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): conforme
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
LEED
EMAS
ISO 14001
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