Minifie van Schaik Architects
MvS Architects
Australian Wildlife Health Centre


client:
Zoos Victoria
date:
2006
location:
Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary
map:
link to google maps
link:
AWHC website



The Australian Wildlife Centre is a building quite unique in both its function and form. It is both a fully functioning veterinary facility, and a remarkable and compelling experience for Sanctuary visitors.

The building has been designed to bring Healesville visitors into close contact with the vets and their patients to gain a vivid understanding of how sick and injured Australian animals are cared for.

From a central space visitors can witness the diagnosis of animals, the work of the laboratory, see animals being operated on, and view them recovering and returning to health. A rich multimedia interpretive experience enables visitors to gain a keen understanding of how animals become injured and the full range of activities involved in their care.

The AWC is organised around public gallery space where the ceiling dips and curves, resembling perhaps the ventricles of the heart and providing a central focus to the surrounding activities and exhibits.

The roof form is also designed to work as a ‘solar chimney’, removing hot air from inside to prove passive ventilation to the gallery space, and so removing the need to air-condition.

At the centre of the space the roof form descends to floor level to enclose a central space in which visitors may stand to view the multimedia explanation of animal trauma and care projected onto it’s surface. Constructed from a shimmering gold membrane, the structure is visible from the surrounding landscape.

The AWC has been awarded the 2006 RAIA William Wardell Institutional Award and the 2008 Premier's Design Award for Cultural Architecture.

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Photographs by Peter Bennetts.