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The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga

Mosman, New South Wales

The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga consists of five environmentally sensitive, sustainably designed lodges integrated into the native bushland setting of Taronga Zoo. The project aims to become one of Australia’s first 5-star Greenstar Hotel environments, creating an iconic, adventurous and interactive experience involving direct contact between animals and guests.

The Retreat Hotel consists of 62 luxury rooms and suites, a guest lodge entry pavilion and separate restaurant building that links the retreat to the existing Taronga Centre function spaces. The pods encircle and overlook an open and accessible animal exhibit showcasing native Australian species.

The built form is fragmented to create a low scale permeable environment with a variety of visual and physical connections. The external material palette and façade expression integrates buildings into the surrounding landscape.

Part of the approach to achieve a 5-Star Greenstar outcome for the Retreat was for the accommodation pods to rely primarily on cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels for both the floor and wall structures.  The internal CLT surfaces for the floors, ceilings and walls were then lined to achieve acoustic and fire ratings.

The accommodation pods include native planted ‘green screens’ that cover the northern facades and roofs to camouflage the buildings, while preserving magnificent views of Sydney harbour, the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and CBD skyline beyond. These green screens also shelter the open-air access walkways that connect to rooms and lead guests’ eyes to the central wildlife exhibits below.

The shared public components of the retreat include the reception guest lodge and dining facility, which includes a function space on the second story. These buildings respond to the circular form of the existing Taronga Centre and can be opened in appropriate weather conditions to provide open air gathering spaces for guests.

COX Director, Nick Tyrrell

The built outcome celebrates the principle of strong engagement and interaction between architecture and nature, landscape and native wildlife.


Commendation, Sustainable Architecture, AIA NSW, 2020
Excellence in Timber Products, Australian Certified Timber, Timber Design Awards, 2020

Technical Information

Mosman, New South Wales
In Association With
Interiors - Chada
Taronga Conservation Society
Complete, 2019
Key Consultants
TTW, Turf Design Studio, Compass, DSC, ADP, Aecom, Urbis
Gross Floor Area
Mike Chorley