An iconic, adventurous and interactive experience integrating the buildings with the surrounding landscape.


Taronga Conservation Society Australia






Mosman, Sydney

The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga aims to secure a shared future for wildlife and humans by: becoming one of the Australia’s first 5 Star Greenstar Hotel environments; creating an iconic, adventurous and interactive experience; and integrating the buildings with the surrounding landscape.

The Retreat consists of 62 luxury hotel rooms housed within 5 accommodation pods, together with the Guest Lodge Entry Pavilion, and separate Restaurant building that links to the existing Taronga Function Centre. The pods encircle and overlook an open and accessible animal exhibit focussed on native Australian species.

The built form creates a permeable environment with a variety of visual and physical connections. The accommodation pods include landscape “Green Screens” covering their northern facades and wrapping up over their roofs to camouflage the buildings and enhance the magnificent outlook over the animal exhibits, with Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and CBD skyline beyond.

Sustainability was a key aim for the Wildlife Retreat project. Achievement of  a 5 Star Greenstar rating will be assisted by a range of features including:

  • Cross Laminated Timber Structural elements
  • External shading systems including green screens to the external open air walkways connecting to the rooms
  • Landscaping and greenscreens minimising heat island effects
  • Rooftop PV panels
  • Stormwater retention systems
  • Option to turn off airconditioning and simply open windows in comfortable temperatures

The drought and bushfires over summer have highlighted the importance of sustainability, and tragically huge numbers of native animals have been destroyed by the fires. 

It is important to note that native wildlife is in no way responsible for climate change. Taronga have been involved in Wildlife Rescue programmes that have helped to save many animals hurt by the bushfires. The interaction with nature that the Retreat celebrates, is an important component of encouraging a more sustainable future.

“The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga has strengthened Taronga’s vision to secure a shared future for wildlife and people. The project has provided a unique and exciting opportunity to influence attitudes and behaviours of guests towards sustainability and wildlife conservation, by encouraging visitors to see themselves as ‘part of the wild’.

This has been achieved by nestling the buildings into surrounding bushland, and creating a wraparound wildlife sanctuary showcasing Australia’s fascinating wildlife. This immersive design enhances the visitor experience and positively impacts their attitudes and behaviours towards wildlife and conservation, by surrounding guests with the sights and sounds of wildlife.

Critical to the success of the project was the collaboration between key consultant firms COX Architecture, Green and Dale Associates and Turf Design Studio bringing together architectural, zoological, public domain and landscape expertise into a harmonious setting for both animals and visitors.”

Matt Spooner, Senior Project and Construction Procurement Manager
Taronga Conservation Society Australia