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Saturday02 August 2014

Crocodile buildings (and a koala)

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From dog-shaped cafes to crocodile-shaped hotels, BD presents a survey of animal-shaped buildings from around the world.

Back in August 2011, BD reported that work had commenced on the construction of a 45,000-seat football stadium in the shape of a giant crocodile, for Turkish club Bursaspor.

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Commonly known as the “Green Crocodiles”, the top-division club hopes to move into its new home, designed by Bursa-based practice Sozuneri Architects, in time for the beginning of the 2013 season.

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Evidently developers weren’t satisfied with the original plan (pictured below) to wrap the stadium in a scaly, croc-like roof so they decided to go all out and add the hungry crocodile head to the final design. At night, the crocodile’s eyes illuminate, shooting green beams across the sky.

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To be known as the Timsah (Turkish for “crocodile”) Arena, the stadium will feature state-of-the-art facilities and will totally transform the central suburb of Osmangazi, in the club’s home city of Bursa.  

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Unlikely as it may seem, the Timasah Arena will not be the first crocodile-shaped building in the world when completed in 2013. Back in 1978 the traditional Aboriginal people of the Kakadu region of Australia formed the Gagudju Association in order to manage a large part of the Kakadu National Park – the largest national park in Australia and one of the few World Heritage Sites listed for both its cultural and natural heritage.

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Realising the need for a hotel, they commissioned Darwin-based architect, John Wilkins, who worked in consultation with the local Aboriginal population to develop the 110-bedroom hotel. Speaking in 2003, Wilkins commented: “Any architect worth his salt thinks there’s a real opportunity to do some magnificent architecture instead of just a six-pack block of flats”.

Wilkins played a significant role in the reconstruction of Darwin in the wake of the 1974 Cyclone Tracy. Clearly a proponent of a rather literal form of architecture, Wilkins explains that: “Where the cyclone had really taken its toll, we didn’t attempt to rebuild that. We just paved a large circular design in the paving itself, which was symbolic of the cyclone coming in and wrecking the place”.

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Now known as the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, the hotel measures 250m from head to tail and 30m across the belly. The crocodile’s jaws frame the hotel entrance, which leads to an expansive marble foyer designed to represent a cool, green billabong. The reptile’s body houses the guest rooms, which overlook a central courtyard with a shaded swimming pool, designed to represent the crocodile’s heart.

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 “World-renowned” indigenous artists from Kakadu and Arnhem Land are well represented in the Holiday Inn’s extensive art gallery. The hotel gift shop also offers “informative, decorative and memorable souvenirs”, including crocodile handbags.

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1,800 miles away, on the other side of Australia, another of the continent’s most famous animal exports has been realised in built form – the Giant Koala of Dadswell’s Bridge, near Victoria.

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Completed in 1989 at the end of the boom years for the building of Australia’s “big things”, the Giant Koala stands 14m tall. Some 12 tonnes of material went into its construction, which is of cold-cast bronze, set on a steel frame. A paste of fibreglass and bronze was used to create a rough, hairy effect to the exterior.

The work of sculptor Ben Van Zetton, who was commissioned in 1988 by the then Koala Motor Inn and roadhouse owner, Beryl Cowling, the giant marsupial is home to a koala-themed gift shop and towers above a small petting zoo, which houses rabbits, guinea pigs, baby turkeys and chickens.

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It was announced in late 2009 that the Giant Koala would be renamed in memory of the world-famous Sam the koala in an effort to raise awareness of the species’ declining population.

Sam, who recovered from third-degree burns and lung damage at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter, became a world-wide symbol after devastating bushfires destroyed a large region inhabited by koalas. He eventually died due to complications relating to chlamydia, which affects half of the wild koala population.

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