The Taronga Institute of Science and Learning is a sustainable conservation hub located within Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Designed to expand Taronga’s capabilities in conservation science, research and learning, the building also has a six-star environmental rating.
The facility is used not only for research scientists but also university students, fostering the next generation of conservation innovation. Specialist laboratories and digital teaching labs provide opportunities to broaden partnerships with leading universities, while the Learning Hub allows students through to researchers and tertiary students to interact with the zoo.
The building sits on a hill that overlooks Sydney Harbour. The use of natural materials has ensured there is minimal visual impact, while creating a harmonious relationship between the built form and Sydney’s sandstone environment.
Inspiration for the facade came from the patterns found in DNA structures; a reflection of the building’s purpose.
Inside, the structure has been designed around bringing together three major hubs: Learning, Science, and the Collaboration/Visitor Hub. Spanning three levels, the building is centred around an atrium space that links the building’s functions and allows scientists, animal careers, educators and the public to interact.
There are three immersive learning spaces themed around desert, rainforest and woodland environments which allow children to enter the natural habitat of animals and experience their natural behaviour. This is one of many features designed to encourage children’s immersion in STEM learning and create a true connection between people and wildlife.
Overall, a combination of careful material selection, design of space and environmental connectivity comes together in this structure to create a living narrative of conservation and coexistence. The building has also made a significant contribution towards the zoo’s recently achieved zero-carbon footprint.