As part of their 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning to learn about the ground-breaking work the zoo is undertaking and to engage with conservation.

The first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, the Institute is a living laboratory for conservation education and scientific investigation, built to empower the scientists of tomorrow.

Designed by Sydney-based practice, NBRS Architecture, the central concept was based around bringing together three major hubs; Learning, Science, and Visitor Experience, to “seamlessly connect via branching arms intersecting in a central light filled atrium”.

The Scientific Hub provides an on-site facility to showcase and benefit from the zoo’s unique data and specimens, while its research facilities allow Taronga’s scientists to explore ways to protect endangered species.

It is a facility not only for staff but university students, fostering the next generation of conservation innovation.

The design houses tutorial learning environments that allow students from all backgrounds and levels of study to interact with the zoo.

From early learning, through to high school and beyond, to researchers and tertiary students, the Learning Hub is a space that will support over 150,000 visits per year and will elevate the depth of educational engagement.

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Three immersive learning environments themed around rainforest, arid and woodland habitats provide authentic learning experiences for students and transform education at the Zoo. 

The collaborative Visitor Hub is a space that allows a true connection between visitors and the Institute and has been specifically designed for experiences to create a closer bond between students, scientists and 300 staff. 

According to Andrew Duffin, director of Design at NBRS, “From the outset we worked closely with the Taronga Conservation Society to create a benchmark facility which would evoke its core purposes of conservation.”

“From the big ideas of branching arms centred on a light filled atrium, down to the detail of the cell like fa├žade, the result is a beautifully crafted experiential environment,” he says.