Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture: The Lemur Forest Adventure at Taronga Zoo is one of Taronga’s most intimate and memorable visitor experiences. Located at the heart of the zoo, in the former seal pools, the project brings together play, education and interpretation through a consolidated experiential journey.

The design philosophy and brief embraces:
– Lemur welfare and conservation;
– Play, with focus on a 8-14 year age group;
– Interpretation of place and animal conservation;
– Retention and expression of the site context historically and physically.

The Lemur Forest Adventure is divided into five parts, the forest play-through, observation outpost, moat, lemur exhibit, and night dens. The forest play-through incorporates a densely packed, multilayered forest with play areas interspersed at different levels. The play experiences include a forest walk structure with slide attachment and viewing terrace, climbing pod with net climbing structure, balance challenges, water play and boulder climb.
The observation outpost is a hard paved area that functions as a central gathering place, allowing flexible use for keeper talks, function groups and family reconnection after the forest play-through experience. The moat divides the observation outpost from the lemur exhibit that is accessed under a waterfall protruding from the site’s sandstone cliffs. The lemur walk-through embraces the lemur and its native xerophytic habitat in Madagascar. A lemur island, exposed sandstone cliffs and ledges provide retreat for the lemurs as visitors walk through the exhibit. Night dens are located on the western side of the exhibit, accessed through a neatly concealed passageway under the heritage stairs.

In designing the exhibit and experience, it was important to overlay and integrate the environment of the lemurs with the larger cultural landscape of the zoo and layers of heritage including layout, rock shelves, walls and gardens. New elements respect the heritage layer, and the natural history of the site and region. The needs of the public and the needs of the lemurs have both been accommodated in this shared landscape.

Design: Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture, Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture, Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects
Client: Taronga Conservation Society Australia
Location: Taronga Zoo, Mosman, Sydney
Design: 2011
Construction: 2013
Area: 1950m2 (approx)
Budget: $7.5 million
Image credits: Brett Boardman

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