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    Details emerge for new Sydney Zoo—greenroofs, concrete tunnels and Australian-firsts revealed

    Nathan Johnson

    A new zoo slated for development in Sydney’s west will be home for a wide variety of exotic animals, but it will also play host to some Australian firsts in building design, led by best-practice sustainability objectives.

    Designed by Misho + Associates in conjunction with landscape architecture from Aspect Studios and masterplanning from JBA, Sydney Zoo will be located approximately 33 kilometres west of the Sydney Central Business District and feature 24 buildings spread over an irregular shaped 16.5ha site.

    It will also comprise of up to 200 state of the art animal exhibition areas as well as significant public open space including active play and picnic zones, and innovative animal viewing areas, all designed by Aspect Studios.


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    Building’s 1-6 are for the public, while 7 -24 will be home to the back of house operations. According to Misho, the primary objectives for buildings 1-6 are landscape integration, environmental sustainability and animal welfare priority.  From those goals, the architects have proposed a series of built forms that relate to the neighbouring landscape in their colour, material and scale, and also consider the embodied energy and sustainability of all building materials and resources used.

    The main materials to be used for the buildings are prefabricated concrete, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and recycled timber, all chosen on the above guidelines.

    The prefab concrete will be used to make tunnel structures for buildings 4,5 and 6 which will also be home to ‘green’ roof habitats that are the first of their type in Australia to support wildlife shelter and biodiversity intensification.

    The CLT forms the structural shell of the majority of the Zoo’s structures while recycled timber is used extensively throughout the park on the facades and awnings of its buildings.

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    Apart from the Australian-first in green roof habitats, the key architectural features of the Zoo will be the park’s Entry and Retail Pavilion and its ‘Boma’ Restaurant, which will both be dressed with irregularly sized recycled timber screening.

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    Misho says their simple palette of materials will be detailed carefully to create an impression of quality and longevity. They explain that there will be a lack of applied decoration masking the architecture of their buildings, instead decoration will be applied through the layering of light and shadow over the building structures.

    Other sustainability initiatives will be a local-first policy on material sourcing, photovoltaic energy for all new buildings where possible, use of Split System Air Conditioners only where essential and a sophisticated water management policy.  

    Misho believes the project will act as a platform for ongoing research into the potential for alternative models of built form to support and promote urban ecology, to manage storm water appropriately and enable more efficient performance in solar power generation.

    A Development Application has been lodged with NSW Planning & Environment and is currently open to public submission.

    Images and building descriptions of Buildings 1-6 courtesy of Misho + Associates.

    BUILDING ONE: ENTRY AND RETAIL PAVILION

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    The Entry Pavilion will be lined with external ply cladding and a Colorbond roof and be shaded by recycled timber screening.

    BUILDING TWO: BOMA RESTAURANT

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    The Design principles for the Boma Restaurant are derived from the tradition African enclosure into a more contemporary solution. External Walls will be a combination of glass windows, louvers and solid panels with recycled timber cladding.

    BUILDING 3 ADMINISTRATION, CURATORIAL AND VETERINARY DEPARTMENTS

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    The admin facility is a simple low scale building that blends into the surrounding landscape and forms a key function of the organizational framework for the new Sydney Zoo.

    BUILDINGS 4, 5 AND 6

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    Walls and roof structure will be made from pre-fabricated concrete tunnel sections and landscaped on top. External end walls will be lined with Colorbond metal finish in selected dark green colour. Also some of the external walls will be a combination of glass windows, louvres and solid panels with recycled timber cladding.

    Images: Misho + Associates

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