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Build in the wild

Following last week’s announcement that Monarto Safari Park’s new Visitor Centre will open to members from Wednesday 23 March and to the general public from Friday 25 March 2022, Zoos SA has shared information regarding the sustainability of the Visitor Centre build as well as nine nifty facts about the centre to get designers, engineers, architects, conservationists and fans of Grand Designs all a flutter!

“As a conservation charity, Zoos SA takes the protection and care of the Ngarrindjeri land on which the new Visitor Centre stands extremely seriously.

“Before anything else, it was vital that we conducted a cultural study. This land study was undertaken by the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation and signed-off in late 2021 before building began.

“When it came to choosing the design, we couldn’t look beyond the design by local architectural firms Intro and studio-gram. Their design for Monarto Safari Park’s Visitor Centre is a celebration and acknowledgment of both the Indigenous land and African fauna and reflects the species that we care for at Monarto Safari Park,” said Elaine Bensted, CE of Zoos SA.

Intro Director, Terry Boxall, believes that the design, in collaboration with Studio Gram, represents the connection of people to the environment through education and history.

“The design reflects an understanding that conservation starts with a humanity that has an appreciation of nature. It was important to us to create a memorable transitional experience from Australia to Africa where each visitor leaves with greater knowledge, and as an ambassador of the Monarto Safari Park.”

Despite building beginning in early 2021, the use of natural materials such as rammed earth and corten steel, mean the new Visitor Centre looks as if it has always been there. Regardless of its size, it blends with the Monarto Mallee plains that surround it and extend into the horizon yet it still has that show-stopping ‘wow’ factor.

“As well as complementing its environment, we chose rammed earth because it also provides passive cooling and insulating properties with little to no ongoing required maintenance,” said Les Jones, Zoos SA’s Director of Property and Development.

“And, the little paint that the building requires was carefully chosen to contain low volatile organic compounds thereby creating fewer emissions.

“Working with the designers and builders Mossop Construction + Interiors, Zoos SA opted for maximising the optimal orientation with high performance double-glazed windows highly regarded for, amongst others, the benefits to the environment from reducing the need for unnecessary energy consumption.

“However, even when heating and/or cooling is required, the centre is fitted with high efficiency heating and cooling units which, along with the rest of the building, are run by electricity provided by renewable technology initiatives such as the Solar PV generation system. This system converts solar radiation into electricity by utilising photo‐voltaic technology.

“Retaining what precious water does fall and minimising any waste was also front of mind in terms of the design and choice.

“I feel flushed with pride with our choice to collect rainwater and use it for the toilets and irrigation throughout the centre. Naturally, this will be delivered through water efficient taps and fixtures too,” finished Les.

When it comes to lighting, the new Visitor Centre is fitted with motion sensor LEDs that ensure lighting is controlled and efficient and meaning the spotlight remains very much on a sustainable build!

The Visitor Centre project received $11.25m of funding from the Australian Government under the Community Development Grants Programme and $4.55m from the South Australian Government towards a total $16.8m cost of building the new entry and Visitor Centre. The Rural City of Murray Bridge also contributed to the project through the construction of a new slip lane entry from Monarto Road.

Nine nifty facts about the sustainability of Monarto Safari Park’s Visitor Centre build:

  1. 95% of waste from site (68.55 tonnes of general, concrete, steel, green/timber and cardboard) was recycled on the Visitor Centre’s construction site. This is the equivalent weight of 34 Southern White Rhinoceros bulls.
  2. The walls of the Visitor Centre are made with rammed earth. The environmental benefits of this type of construction is that they have high insulation properties with the walls keeping cool during the day and releasing heat at night when the surrounding ambient temperature goes down.
  3. 28,000m² car park and 13,000m² for overflow carpark equates to approximately ½ the land mass occupied by the Adelaide Zoo. Note carpark base was constructed from materials with low embodied energy i.e. crushed and sourced on site.
  4. Other materials with low embodied energy used on the project include rammed earth walls constructed from majority materials obtained from a local quarry and natural timber
  5. The entire South West quadrant of the roof of the new Visitor Centre is covered in solar panels with the ability to expand panels at a later date.
  6. Water saving initiatives – rain water collected from roof for toilets & irrigation and water efficient taps and fixtures.
  7. Choice of materials with low ongoing maintenance requirements such as all external walls that are constructed from a combination of rammed earth and pre-finished wall cladding, window frames, verandah soffits and roof sheeting.
  8. High performance glazing a combination of low-e single glazing or low-e double glazing.
  9. Reduced demand on electricity supply due to installation of solar panels, LED lighting, heat recovery air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting control and monitoring supported by a building management system (BMS), hot water heating system utilising heat pump technology, thermal massing and high performance glazing.

*We require visitors aged 12 and over to be fully vaccinated and show proof on request. Additional vaccination requirements apply to experience participants aged 5 and up.

Please see www.zoossa.com.au/covid-19/.

Please note Zoos SA has a COVID vaccination mandate in place. Please visit www.zoossa.com.au/covid-19 to understand the requirements prior to visiting/booking.


The day is here!Monarto Safari Park’s new Visitor Centre is open to the public from 9.30am. #thewildiscallinghttps://t.co/RmvY4qIIts

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction.

Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging.

We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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