Living Coasts, Torquay’s Coastal Zoo

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The objective of Living Coasts was to regenerate this part of the harbour area and to give the visitor a new perspective on marine animals and birds and their conservation; in particular, being able to observe animal behaviour not easily seen in the wild.

Amongst the many demands of the brief, emerged an overriding desire to repair the damage to the coastline in some way. The requirement to provide habitat for the coastal animals meant covering the surface with rocky pools, low cliffs and beaches. We manipulated this new landscape to effect the much needed ‘coastal repair’. All of the other accommodation is sited below surface level to maximise the new landscape opportunity. Views and solar orientation had to be carefully balanced.

This project also incorporates a number of innovation technologies and assemblies.  Of particular note is the use of seawater heat pumps which use the proximity to the sea to provide cooling. The green roof over the restaurant includes an estuary wetland environment. Natural aggregates and muds were sourced to create the beaches and estuary. Timber, some reclaimed, is used extensively for other elements.

HRH The Princess Royal officially opened Living Coasts in 2003.

This regeneration project won the Michelmores/Western Morning News Project of the Year Award 2002 and an RIBA Regional Award in 2004.