Schonbrunn Zoo, Vienna Austria 

Animal Welfare Case Study 
Polar bear enjoying the outdoors at Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna Austria
Outside the bear's home, roof domes can clearly be seen, brightening the inside with natural daylight



To build a new Polar Bear exhibit, adding polar bears to the zoo for the first time. Daylighting was a critical part of the design of the enclosure. 


6 Solatube SolaMaster 750 DS-O units 


Architect DI Peter Hartmann, DI Frank Leopold 


New build Polar Bear exhibit 


Vienna’s Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Zoo) was awarded the Best Zoo in Europe in 2010, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2014, the Polar Bear World (Eisbärenwelt) exhibit was opened in great anticipation, adding polar bears to the famous zoo for the first time. Daylighting was a critical part of the design of the enclosure. 


The polar bear indoor retreat area was an essential part of the exhibit. The enclosure consists of rooms, cages, visitor tunnels, employee passages and a kitchen, and was built underground to maximize free space for the polar bears to roam around above ground. The retreat area consists of 4.3 m2, and was designed by architect, DI Peter Hartmann und DI Frank Leopold. The total cost of the project was € 10,700,000, built by Burghautmannschaft Österreich. The builder consulted with Forthuber Doris Tageslichtsysteme to bring daylight underground with the use of Solatube® Daylighting Systems. 


The builder and design team chose to daylight several areas of the underground enclosure with the SolaMaster® Series 750 DS (530 mm diameter), which is engineered specifically to deliver consistent daylight during the day by capturing low-angle sun rays with Raybender® 3000 technology. 


The visitor tunnel has two 750 DS-O units installed to allow guests to view the polar bears while they explore under water. The kitchen where food is prepared for the bears and passage for employees are all now illuminated by natural daylight. A stairwell that adjoins the polar bear enclosure to the rain-forest house also had a system installed to maximize daylight. 
“We are excited that we can install Solatubes in the oldest Zoo from Austria. In this time we bring daylight in the underground when the keeper goes to the cages and in the kitchen they need no electrical light during the day.”  
Doris Forthuber, Tageslichtsysteme e.U. 
Inside the polar bear's cage, the installed daylighting system brightens the interior with natural daylight
Another view of the polar bear's house
A hidden roof dome above the bear's home
To learn how Solatube Daylighting Systems could brighten your next project 
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