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Taronga Wildlife retreat
Taronga Wildlife Retreat guest lounge exterior
Taronga Wildlife Retreat guest lounge interior

The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo in Sydney is a sustainable hotel where the guest rooms overlook an open animal enclosure, providing up close views of Australian wildlife or views across to Sydney Harbour.

Designed by Cox Architecture, the retreat is set to become Australia’s first 5-star Green Star hotel and it consists of five low rise accommodation pods which encircle an animal exhibit. Cross laminated timber (CLT) has been used as the primary floor and wall structural elements and certified timbers have been used extensively throughout the projects – from external cladding to internal timber finishes. The materials palette was selected to blend in with the surrounding landscape, with timber providing a connection to the native trees and sandstone, which is common to the Sydney area.

External green screen
Taronga Wildlife Retreat rooftop solar panels

External guest access walkways have been used instead of the typical central corridors which connects all five accommodation pods to the central wildlife exhibits below. These walkways are screened with native planting and in time will provide shading and will minimise any potential heat island effect.

Heat islands are caused by structures such as buildings, roads and other infrastructure absorbing and re-emitting the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes. In urban areas, where greenery is limited and structures are highly concentrated the temperatures become higher, relative to outlying areas. These pockets of heat are called Heat Islands and temperatures can increase by several degrees.

Other sustainable initiatives include the use of rooftop photovoltaic solar to power the Retreat, an on-site water treatment plant which provides recycled water for toilet flushing and irrigation and water and energy efficient fittings.

Guest room Taronga Wildlife Retreat
External window screens Taronga Wildlife Retreat
Sydney Harbour view from Taronga Wildlife Retreat

Sustainability specs:
– Aiming to be the first 5 star Green Star accredited hotel in Australia (accreditation pending approval)
– Cross laminated timber (CLT) structural elements
– Open air walkways connecting rooms
– Green screens used to provide external shading to external walkways
– Rooftop photovoltaic solar panels
– Guests have option to turn off air conditioning and open windows
– Water is recycled for toilet flushing and irrigation
– Onsite water treatment plant
– Water efficient fittings
– Energy efficient fittings – lights, appliances, ceiling fans
– Operable lourvers used to provide cross flow ventilation which reduces cooling requirements
– Close connection to nature and wildlife – biophilic design principles utilised
– Stormwater retention systems to treat stormwater onsite
– Bushland setting with landscaping and greenscreens to minimise heat island effects

Taronga Wildlife Retreat guest lounge atrium
Taronga Wildlife Retreat view towards Sydney Harbour
Taronga Wildlife Retreat animal enclosure
From the architect:

The built outcome celebrates the principle of strong engagement and interaction between architecture and nature, landscape and native wildlife.

The Retreat Hotel consists of 62 luxury rooms and suites, a guest lodge entry pavilion and separate restaurant building that links the retreat to the existing Taronga Centre function spaces. The pods encircle and overlook an open and accessible animal exhibit showcasing native Australian species.

Images courtesy of Cox Architecture. Photography by Mike Chorley and 
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