Wellington Zoo Amphitheatre

Completion date
Cultural & Civic

The Wellington Zoo Amphitheatre provides a 300-seat, multi-purpose space for the public to engage with the Zoo’s residents. The challenge was to create a powerful and symbolic building within a particularly tight budget. The most difficult – and also the most innovative – aspect of the project was opening up the rear of the theatre in a way that was technically simple, robust and yet elegant whether open or closed.

This project required close engagement with the zoo staff. The design process supported and responded to structural changes in zoo management and their areas of focus. This close alignment with changing zoo needs has resulted in a facility with a strong client fit and flexibility to adapt to changing requirements.

The zoo context demanded a robust building. In response, simple and effective building technologies were employed in highly crafted way; areas of striated wood soften and warm the space. Rigorous attention to critical details – flashings in particular – give a finesse to its edges. The translucent sheeting creates a light effect that is soft and slightly mysterious and when lit up in the evenings it glows like a lantern in the heart of the zoo.


  • 2008 NZIA Resene NZ Award for Architecture – Cultural and Civic
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