AUCKLAND ZOO ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland Zoo commissioned Ignite to design a new administration building as an extension to the original, which was dated and inflexible in terms of circulation and collaboration spaces. The new 400sqm building extension is a modern, functional workspace designed to support efficiency and a healthy workplace culture. It has all the qualities you would associate with its unique zoo environment: natural light, greenery, and a relaxed atmosphere that reflects the people that work there.
Ignite has also been asked to retrofit the old administration building into a meeting and office area to complement the new building.
Flexibility & Collaboration
Multiple workplace strategies were explored to test the flexibility of the interior space and allow for an expanding workforce. The solution was a series of multifunctional areas that give occupants the ability to configure and reconfigure workspaces as needed.
This has worked particularly well for the Zoo’s varied workforce, which includes a mix of finance, marketing, and management professionals, a life sciences team that spends most of its day in the field, as well as project and facilities managers. There are no assigned desks and plenty of space for collaboration and reflection—most notably the library shelves and soft furnishings on the mezzanine floor. The mezzanine also provides an excellent view over the Pridelands African Precinct, giving staff some connectivity to the public spaces.
The open plan layout allows for maximum flexibility now and in the future, and provides a welcoming and innovative workplace with high staff satisfaction. The multifunctional areas, furniture, and finishes maximise the use of available space and reinforce the Zoo brand, culture, and history. The simplicity of the construction and interior fit-out belies the full impact of its functionality, which is deliberately aimed at creating a modern, vibrant, and efficient workplace fully equipped to support sustainable growth.
Since opening on 17 December 1922, Auckland Zoo has evolved to become an active conservation organisation, and as such, it is fitting that the original administration building has been retained for re-use. While the new building is architecturally streaks-ahead of the original, its timeless form and materiality means that it will sit comfortably within its setting for many years to come.
While the new administration building was not designed for Green Star accreditation, the design team chose low-maintenance, cost-effective, and sustainably sourced materials to reflect Auckland Zoo’s environmental values. Key environmental design features include a low-energy profile using natural light and passive ventilation, as well as rainwater collection from the new roof into an existing water tank.
Design Form & Materials
The long horizontal line of the building balances privacy from the public on one side, and openness on the other via a fully glazed façade. The latter invites plenty of natural light into the workplace, and people enjoy views over the extensive landscaping being undertaken as part of the rebuild.
Outside, the mix of vertical timber cladding and screens sit comfortably alongside steel roofing and joinery. The vertical cedar fins provide passive solar control and protection for birds in flight, while horizontal louvres at the lower and upper levels control air movement where heat is drawn away from the glazing.
Inside, the exposed long-span laminated timber roof portals create structure, while at the same time delivering a flexible, column-free workspace. The mezzanine floor is constructed using cross laminated timber and is suspended from Glulam portals with Macalloy rods. A new centralised entrance provides a visual connection into the Zoo and separates the old and new buildings. The reception and large open-plan kitchen are at the heart of the building, with the visitor and waiting area being integral to the chit-chat of kitchen interactions.