The Wellington Zoo Hub / Assembly Architects Limited


Project Specs

非常感谢设计方Assembly Architects Limited将项目介绍和项目图片授权gooood发行。
Appreciation towards Assembly Architects Limited for providing the following description:
The Hub at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand features a diverse programme to suit the reptile
inhabitants and the human visitors.  Assembly Architects Limited repurposed the curious entry
facade of a former elephant house to form a walled dining courtyard, used site excavations to
form a rammed earth reptile habitat and designed a unique event pavilion for daytime picnics and
evening parties. 
Wellington Zoo is situated within the Town Belt – a verdant public reserve that arcs around the
hills of the central city and suburbs.  Unoccupied flat land within the zoo grounds was a rarity
when architects Justin and Louise Wright identified the potential of the sun drenched north facing
site beneath a man-made duckpond, a disused elephant mounting stand, and the dilapidated
elephant house.  Kamala, the last elephant at the Zoo died in 1983, ending a half-century era of
elephants resident at the Zoo.   
From the southern downhill approach the existing elephant house archway entry opens into a
casual dining courtyard.  Little was done to the existing facade save for earthquake
strengthening to the dome topped arches, minor repair plastering and a colourful new paint job.
Fixed bench seating was added to the courtyard walls, which together with painted timber picnic
tables create a casual dining court for the kiosk style food, ice cream and coffee. 
A translucent canopy roof supported on Laminated Veneer Lumber beams soars atop the
courtyard and over a low-slung building that contains the kiosk together with back-of-house
service rooms, a catering preparation kitchen, public toilets and secure staff access to the Scaly
Nursery reptile enclosure.  A covered corridor connects all of the staff service areas and
facilitates easy loading from the adjacent service vehicle delivery zone, which is also now
separated from the public areas with well defined landscape treatment.
On the public side of the building, the reptiles are presented basking in ventilated glass fronted
cases within a substantial wall of rammed earth.  The earth was sourced from excavations within
the zoo grounds and is stabilized with cement to counter erosion.  Since the site is in an
earthquake prone zone, the rammed earth is also steel reinforced, and protected from stroller
wheels with steel rails to match the handrails.  The 4 habitats, each with photographic vinyl
backdrops, step downhill with viewing via a gentle ramp.
A transverse wall in rammed earth sections signals the end of the Scaly Nursery and leads
toward the public toilets, and to the southern end of the pavilion. The short link allows space
around an existing mature cabbage tree (Ti Kouka/ Cordyline Australis) and provides dedicated
access to the toilets and reptiles when the cafe and pavilion are occupied.  The link is sheltered
by a cantilevered roof of folded steel sheets that resulted from a paper folding study in the
architecture studio.  Slots between the rammed earth sections allow glimpses of the rain water
tanks which collect the water for use in the public toilets.
With a clear span of almost 7m and length of 21m the pavilion, named Kamalas after the zoos
last elephant is open on the east side to avoid the worst of the wind and face onto the green
Town Belt.  The structure comprises a concrete slab, two precast concrete end walls, and a steel
frame to support a vaulted tent structure. 
The vault is supported at the north and south ends by precast concrete walls, which also contain
service slots for the power, data and audio visual connections required during events.  To the
opening east face, double channel steel posts support a folded steel plate over, which acts as a
rain gutter and neatly conceals roll-away clear plastic doors.  The gutter plate extends beyond
the ends of the pavilion, terminating with rain chains over rock filled concrete pipe water catchers
for the gardens below.
Extensive and collaborative design and prototyping was carried out for the vault framework.
Justin Wright worked with structural engineer Alistair Cattanach from Dunning Thornton
Consultants over several months and through many iterations to
arrive at the final solution which was thoroughly tested with up to 1:1 prototyping prior to final
confirmation. The 4mm aluminium shape, fabricated and assembled by Fraser Engineering was cut on a turret punch complete with holes for assembly.  The shape
was then pressed into the radius of the final vault on a form press, and powder-coated in gloss
black paint.  On site, following a precise set-out and erection of the steel frames, Fraser
Engineering assembled 716 of the curved elements, weighing 1.5Kg per piece, working
horizontally to position in place with around 1400-1500 turned aluminum rods through the pre
punched holes.  Finally, 1400-1500 tube gussets were riveted to the curved elements to balance
the torsional forces in the structure and complete the vault framework.  The pavilion assembly
took approximately 3 weeks. 
The pavilion is clad in a lightweight plastic membrane commonly used on agricultural tunnel
houses.  The opaque film lends a bright translucency to the pavilion interior, with interesting
effects in both rain and sun.   When the stunning late-afternoon shadow play from the western
trees wanes, artificial lighting takes over and the effect is reversed, illuminating the form of the
structure to the exterior at night.
Apart from the concrete slab floor and end walls, the pavilion is essentially a flat-packable
product design.  The longest steel element is 7.2 metres, therefore the metal works are
transportable in a 30ft shipping container.
The Hub was officially opened by the Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown in September 2011.
The NZ Designer’s Institute awarded Assembly Architects Ltd a silver “Best Award” in the Spatial
Built Environment category for the Zoo Hub project.
Justin Wright (director), Louise Wright (director) and James Norman.
Project Credits
ARCHITECT  Assembly Architects Limited
PROJECT TEAM  Justin Wright, Louise Wright, James Norman
PROJECT NAME  The Zoo Hub, Wellington Zoo
PROJECT ADDRESS  Wellington Zoo, 200 Daniell Street, Newtown, Wellington 6021
OPENING DATE  1 September 2011
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Alistair Cattanach, Dunning Thornton Consultants Ltd
CONTRACTOR  Naylor Love Limited
PHOTOGRAPHER  Jet Productions Ltd (Mike Heydon)
ABOUT Assembly Architects Limited
Assembly Architects Limited is a Wellington architect practice that designs and delivers
architecture projects throughout New Zealand to enrich the built environment for local, national
and international clients.
Recent projects in the Wellington region have included the Wellington Zoo Hub, the restoration
and renovation of a 3 storey villa in Thorndon, Harry’s Fashion Boutique in Seatoun (together
with the owners own home) and various classroom blocks for Catholic Schools.  Other recent
projects throughout the country include various prefabricated projects such as the Britomart
Showcases; a luxury retail pop up that was delivered on an extremely tight timeframe before the
Rugby World Cup, Fast-class classrooms, and prefabricated student accommodation pods for
Auckland University’s Elam Hall.   
Works in progress include a holiday house in Mangaweka, a rammed earth house in Wanaka and
a residential extension to an existing Woolshed.
Assembly Architects Limited recently received a Designer’s Institute silver Bestaward 2011 in the
Built Environment spatial category for the Wellington Zoo Hub, and a New Zealand Institute of
Architects Gisborne/ Hawkes Bay Architecture Award 2011 for the Waipatiki Beach House in
Hawkes Bay. 
Assembly Architects Limited is a New Zealand Institute of Architects practice and a member of
Assembly was established in 2005 by Architect Justin Wright (B.Arch hons, B.BSc, ANZIA, NZ
Reg. Architect) and partner/ wife Louise Wright (B.Arch hons, ANZIA, NZ Reg. Architect).  They
are both graduates from Victoria University of Wellington, and also attended the Penn State
University Sede di Roma architecture programme in Rome, Italy.

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