Perth Zoo Entry Upgrade
Labouchere Road, South Perth
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and we were determined make sure Perth Zoo was ready to impress from the moment visitors arrived.
This project, an upgrade of Perth Zoo’s Labouchere Rd entry, consisted of two parts and was a winner at the 2013 RAIA WA Chapter Architecture Awards, in the Small Project Architecture category.
The first component forms part of the nation’s $94million Solar Cities program. We remodelled the Zoo’s bus shelter into a steel-framed solar pergola, which now supports 452 solar panels with a power rating of 145kW. Visitors arriving by bus are greeted by its dynamic galvanised steel frames and playfully constructed columns, creating a unique first impression of the Zoo.
The second part of the project was the upgrade of the main entry. More than a simple canopy, we needed to create a light, airy space to offer much needed shelter to visitors, while also adding to the Zoo’s visual presence from Labouchere Rd. Without the functional restrictions of solar panels, we were able to design a more organic canopy, inspired by the concept of a faceted ‘cloud’ of folding forms floating above the entry. Colour was crucial to the project’s visual impact, so we raised the sheltering structure high on angled yellow poles, creating a playful effect like stilts or the anchors of a giant stretched canvas. Viewed from within, the canopy’s rectangular polycarbonate roof panels are framed with galvanised steel beams, and decorative laser-cut steel screens depict the different sections of fauna inside the Zoo. An irregular layout of battens also diffuses the view skyward and offers filtered shade, replicating the natural dappling of a tree’s canopy or cloud cover. At night this effect is reversed as the entry fills with light from within, becoming a lantern and adding a sense of drama to the approach.