Exterior view of Wellington Zoo Hotel with Circus School visible through the trees

The hotel is a two storey building to keep it in relation to the human scale and surrounding built context. The chosen materials represent the various layers of density from the solid concrete walls, to the timber slated cladding, to the segments of stacked glass. These glass walls allow people to view aspects of the internal programme as a distorted movement. The stairs leading up to the entrance of the building are angular timber pieces that prompt movement through the space. The materials also intend to reflect the zoo’s environmentally conscious image and fit into the natural surroundings. Gravel roofs also conceal the building when viewed from higher locations within the site.

All rooms either have views into the zoo and some of the enclosures, or look out across the street. The rooms are varying sizes for different bed configurations, some larger to suit families with children, couples or single rooms. The angular walls provide relief from other generic hotel room layouts. Each room is a slightly different shape with varying exterior treatments and sightlines, therefore each space offers a different spatial experience for hotel residents. The entrance atrium for the zoo is a large double height space which the bridge crosses. People can either enter the zoo here, browse the shop, or move into the cafe and restaurant which also caters for the hotel visitors. The cafe is located in the corner so can be viewed from the street from passersby, but can also act as a separate entity if required. Outdoor seating allows visitors to enjoy the surrounding environment. The hotel lobby is separated so can function for afterhours access when the zoo has closed. this space is also double height with a curved stair and lifts leading up to the next level. A function room on the first floor provides for conferences and meetings that may be held at the zoo or circus.

The ‘spinal cord’ or bridge connects all the segments of the building and acts as the passage of circulation. The bridge is a steel and glass structure to expose the sense of the skeletal form. This pathway leads across to join to the circus and allow visitors a glimpse of the performers. It also extends in the opposite direction and out into the tress so visitors can be suspended amongst the vegetation. As people walk through the hall spaces they catch glimpses of the distorted exterior through the stacked glass walls. These spaces are internal gardens so inhabitants feel as if they have a connection with the outside environment. The spaces can also provide passive heating and ventilation. The components of the components of the building form can be considered a ‘system of experience’ with regards to the spinal relationship.

  • Nerve/reflex – The initial reaction within a space
  • Sensory – Activation of the senses within a space
  • Motor – An action of physical interaction within the space

Zoo Hotel

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