Following the initial ground-breaking ceremony for the ”Islands” project at the end of September, the design work for the 60, 000-square metre Islands project will soon be finished.
Beginning in spring 2015, visitors will be able to embark on a journey to the islands of the South Pacific and discover, along footpaths or waterways, the Philippines, New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi. “Islands” is the largest zoo development project in UK history.
The 1, 150-metre-long trail leads through densely-planted, lush greenery. Since winters in northern England and Chester are mild, exotic and woody plants like tree ferns or windmill palms can be planted in the outdoor areas of the experience. The animal enclosures will be planted first, in unison with the implementation of the general landscaping design, so that the plants have enough time to mature before the animals take up residence.
A specially-designed transportation system, the first-of-its-kind in a British zoo, makes discovering “Islands” possible. In one of fourteen authentic, long-tail boats, the adventure world can be explored from the water during a fifteen-minute-long ride. Preparations for the 450-metre-long riverbed and the four-metre-high waterfall are already underway.
Inside Monsoon Forest, a 4, 000-square-metre tropical conservatory showpiece, the planting design stipulates that only tropical or subtropical plants will take root here. The indoor climate will ensure the well-being of the plants outside their land of origin, and also serve as a home to orang-utans, tropical fish and the rare Sunda Gharial crocodile.
The various landscape zones of the “Islands” feature different designs. Themed bridges help visitors get ready for and transition into the next region. Information on where to find the plant species is presented but also specific details like path surfaces, colours, decorative elements, natural stones and types of rock formations.
Chester Zoo’s strong commitment to species and nature conservation is showcased throughout “Islands”. The species-specific approach, as well as numerous behavioural enrichment elements, provides visitors an authentic experience while simultaneously creating rewarding environments for the animals. Fencing and barriers are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible in order to portray the most natural habitat as possible.
The accomplishments of the zoo’s global involvement in the realm of nature conservation are featured and draw the visitor in emotionally. This provides an opportunity to learn more about the endangered species and landscapes of this world, thus inspiring greater appreciation and respect.
In creating the “Islands” project for Chester Zoo, dan pearlman was solely responsible for the design of the architecture and landscape, plantings, animal habitats, and the boat trip.