Gilberts helps recreate tropical rain forest
The centrepiece in what is said to be Europe’s biggest-ever zoo development is replicating a tropical environment — helped by bespoke engineering by Gilberts of Blackpool. The 31 500 m3 Monsoon Forest at Chester Zoo is part of the part of the £40 million 60 000 m2 Island project and the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK.
The Monsoon Forest is home to a tropical rainforest and animals that include Sulawesi crested macaques, Sunda gharial crocodiles and several exotic bird species.
One of the main contractors, Laing O’Rourke, through its subsidiary Crown House Technologies, commissioned Gilberts to devise a solution to ventilate the exhibit interior.
Gilberts engineered a system with 400 mm-diameter aluminium jet nozzle diffusers mounted in galvanised plenum boxes in turn connected to underfloor ductwork. Each nozzle can be angled independently to gently direct the air upwards towards the roof, which is high enough to allow a free-flight aviary.
The company designed and tested the system, then bespoke engineered it in house in its 8000 m2 factory.
Gilberts’ technical director Roy Jones said, ‘We have an established, proven reputation for designing and developing bespoke solutions. Islands was a bit different to our normal commission. We needed to balance some means of creating adequate artificial air movement in a huge area, in a way that mimicked a tropical rainforest, to suit the range of species living there, by forcing air towards “cool zones” up in the trees and which would withstand their investigation!
‘Our in-house R&D and test facilities meant we were quickly and efficiently able to develop a solution, and verify its performance computationally and in reality.’