Rainforest Entry Exhibit

, Melbourne Zoo

Client: Zoos Victoria

Type: Restore, Victoria, Zoo

Year: 2013

Staff: Andrew Taylor, Paul Neely, Dylan Dodds, Yan Zhao, Jason Isaks, Tim Hart

Cost: $4.2 M

In collaboration with: Ark Conservation by Design

Urban Initiatives led the design team on the recently completed $4.2M Rainforest Entry Experience Precinct at Melbourne Zoo. Working collaboratively with Snowdon Architects and Arterial Design among others, UI have created an engaging ‘walk through’ experience where lemurs and visitors share the same space. The Rainforest Entry allows a direct encounter with the lemurs and their environment, an experience usually impossible in more traditional enclosures.

The visitor is immersed in a landscape where planting and materials reference the unusual spiny forests and lush rainforests of Madagascar, the lemur’s natural habitat. Expressive architectural and interpretive objects draw on natural forms of the Madagascan landscape. These forms are designed to provide a stimulating environment for the lemurs and an aesthetically rich one for the visitor.

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"The lemur exhibit engages and immerses our visitors, young or old, of all abilities and of all motivations in a carefully crafted, sophisticated landscape. It’s an interactive and themed interpretive journey where visitors might be face to face or even nose to nose with a troupe of Madagascan Ring-tailed Lemurs. The exhibit forms the entry point to the Gorilla Rainforest, an experience based around the Community Conservation program, They’re Calling on You. The design team response was deep, detailed, far reaching and their approach was persistent. The result was an exhibit that set new Zoo benchmarks for diversion of waste away from landfill, retention of material for reuse on site, water collection and reuse. Life cycle costing was a key component of the materials selection and monthly reporting through the design and construction phases ensured sustainability remained a driver for the development. Urban Initiatives have developed an exhibit that is now the envy of Zoos around the world!" Richard Rowe General Manager Operations - Melbourne Zoo