Snow Panda House, Ähtäri Zoo, Finland

The Project
Ähtäri Zoo was founded in 1973 and is the oldest natural zoo in Finland. Ähtäri Zoo Snow Panda House was completed just before two pandas Lumi and Pyry arrived from China to Finland in January 2018. Snow panda house's design has taken into account the natural pandas' habits and environment in which they are used to live. Indoors conditions have been challenging because the relative humidity and temperature of the air as well as the required brightness had to meet the conditions of the average pandas living environment in the mountains of the Tibet in Central China. Close co-operation with China's leading panda experts have helped to plan and implement appropriate solutions.

The key aspect of interior design was the comfort of pandas. The design was supported by the information provided by Chinese guidance cards, which contained precise requirements for animal housing. For example, temperature’s requirements of up to +25° C in summer, and of about +10°C in winter time. The relative humidity of the air should be 50-60% throughout the year.

The Snow panda House includes a pandas room, a pandas viewing area, a deli / café, a summer terrace and a souvenir shop. The building has an interior area of almost 2500 sqm and a panda outdoor garden of about 3000 sqm.

Chinese panda centre specialists have identified Ähtäri's panda house as one of the world's best-built pandas and outdoor gardens outside of China.

Panda House glazing

In the panda house, glass has been widely used in both facades, terraces and indoors. The glazing was carefully considered and dimensioned against a 110-kilograms Panda crash.

For interior barriers anti-reflective toughened and laminated Pilkington OptiView™ Ultra Protect T 16,8 glass has been used so the bear cannot see the enemies in their own picture reflected in the glass. At the same time, visitors to the panda house are able to see pandas better as the glass is nearly invisible.

The largest glass surfaces of Panda House face north to the pandas yard area. To optimize the amount of natural light, final glass structures were designed only on site. Thus, the glass units were placed at a 3 degree angle. The insulating glass units have been supplied by Seloy Oy and the glass was specified by Juha Rahikkala, who use to work at Pilkington Lahden Lasitehdas.

The glass panes on which the panda has a chance to hit have been calculated against 110 kilograms of pandas at a 3 kN point load, and resulted in the following solution:

The north side glazing, panda’s premises:

6 mm Pilkington Suncool™ 70/35 AC – 12 mm Argon 90% - 6 mm Pilkington Optitherm™ S1N – 10 mm Argon 90% - Pilkington Optilam™ Clear T 16,8
Technical performance of the unit: Ug value = 0.97; LT = 61%; g = 49%

The north side glazing, visitor facilities:

6 mm Pilkington Suncool™ 70/35 AC – 12 mm Argon 90% - 6 mm Pilkington Optitherm™ S1N – 14 mm Argon 90% - 12.8 Pilkington Optilam™ Therm S1N
Technical performance of the unit: Ug value = 0.62; LT = 61%; g = 44%

All windows in the exterior walls of the panda house have an outer surface with anti-condensation coating and provide high performance solar control thanks to the solar control coating on surface 2.

The Snow Panda House officially opened on Saturday 3 March 2018
  Project ReferenceGL_PR0007
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Project Details
Surface Area
932 sqm
Karhunkierros 150, 63700 Ähtäri, Finland
Opening Date
03 Mar 2018
Building Type
  • Leisure
  • Entertainment
About the Architect/Installer
Arkkitehtitoimisto Jääskeläinen Oy
Benefit Led Categories
  • Safety Security
  • Solar Control
  • Special Applications
  • Thermal Insulation