We were delighted to work once again with Colchester Zoo, home to 240 species and set in 60 acres of Essex parkland and lakes, in the construction of the new admissions building.

Sited at the front of the Zoo, adjoining the former Essex Barn entrance and adjacent to the lecture theatre, a previous collaboration with Fordingbridge, the new admissions building is designed to optimise visitor experience from the outset, creating instant positive visual impact and reducing queue time by allowing pre-booked and annual pass holders quicker access to the attraction.

Colchester Zoo is widely respected for the quality of its animal enclosures, and with visitors being the focus of the latest enrichment project, the new admissions building has been designed to maximise natural light with a blend of oversized energy efficient glazing units to the front and rear elevations, and further clerestory windows in the central nave. Thanks to the structure allowing for such glazing, the front of the building appears almost transparent, meaning the structural timber beams and columns can be clearly seen among the warm timber cladding inside the building.

Working with the Zoo’s owner, in-house architect and construction team, Fordingbridge were able to design, manufacture and pre-assemble the majority of components in our West Sussex facility, minimising disruption at the Zoo and ensuring for a faster build time on site.

The new layout for visitor entrance and exit not only reduces queue time on arrival, but has now provided for more opportunities on exit, allowing guests more time to browse in the improved gift shop, providing another valuable form of revenue towards the Zoo’s conservation objectives.

The new centre adjoins the former visitor entrance by means of a glazed walkway, again maximising natural light and still allowing guests to enjoy the exterior landscaping and planting; features echoed by sunken planters in the new buildings entrance.

Style: Bespoke Transparent Design

Frame: Structural glulaminated timber & secondary steel frame

Glazing: Velux curved roof lights, automated clerestory in nave, oversized pop-out units to front and rear elevations

Distinguishing features: Sunken internal planters, exposed timber framework, maximised natural light, timber clad throughout

Visitor Journey: Manned automated gates provide quick access for pre-booked/annual pass holders. Visitors also exit the park via the new building which ajoins the gift shop via connecting walkway finished externally in Corten

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Linkway to former entrance in Essex Barn
Larger giftshop and retail area
Fastrack entrance for annual pass holders & prebooking
Statement pop-out windows to maximise natural light

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