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habitations. While evolution had advanced humans from the status of mere beasts,
the conditions of urban life in the early twentieth century threatened to return
humans down the evolutionary ladder. A pair of photographs (see Figure 11.3 )
contrasted a squalid, dark and infested tenement bedroom with the cleanliness and
functionalism of the new Gorilla House at London Zoo, the photograph showing a
gorilla silhouetted against a shaft of bright sunshine. Quotations drawn from
descriptions of the Gorilla House and from Medical Officers of Health reports
respectively further pointed to the standards established in the Zoo's
experimentation in planning:
The new Gorilla House in the Zoological Gardens, London, shows the thoughtful
care devoted to this housing problem. Gorillas are liable to the diseases of man,
and are, therefore, protected in winter by movable glass screens.
Figure 11.2 'A contrast in housing. Compare these human habitations—in the
slums—with this home for apes—at the London Zoo.'
Source: Huxley, J. (1934) Scientific Research and Social Needs, London: Watts &
co, between p. 65 and p. 66; lower photograph © The Royal Institute of British
Architects
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