Australian Wildlife Health Centre

Location: Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Country, Healesville Sanctuary
Client: Zoos Victoria
Phase: Under Construction

An Eco-Centric Centre

Heliotope with Sandpit Media were awarded the project by Melbourne Zoos, and collaborated closely to develop an engaging and interactive experience. The building houses a range of surgeries and health facilities catering to Australian native animals, in all their shapes and sizes; from injured wildlife drop-offs to emergency native animal surgery and recovery. Visitors to the building are able to view veterinarians and health practitioners as they heal and rehabilitate the animals, reptiles and birds in their care.

The Zoo’s mission is to fight further extinction and as such there is an emphasis throughout the space on underscoring the deep connectivity between creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit (including humans).

As one moves through the building, the clinical feel starts to dissolve, gradually fading from a hospital context to one that attempts to reposition visitor experience from the perspective of the animals the centre cares for.

A strong educational program is interlaced through the building, with interpretation targeted to appeal to a range of age groups. As visitors venture explore the space they encounter immersive exhibits that invite them to experience the world from an animal's perspective. Interactive displays simulate the sounds, sights, and textures of different local ecosystems, allowing individuals to connect with the natural world on a deeply personal level.              

Through the use of natural materials, immersive experiences, and sustainable practices, we have crafted a space that nurtures empathy, fosters stewardship, and inspires visitors to engage with the wonders of local natural environments.

[FIG 1] Sketches for central manna gums and Connectivity Table (edited)

[FIG 2] Studies for animal release and bushfire recovery narratives

[FIG 3] Framing views into animal surgery rooms; the lower page diagram explores the material transformation from the clinical to a more organic setting