Melbourne Zoo Growing Wild Ground Zone Precinct

ClarkeHopkinsClarke, Jeavons Landscape and Arterial Design, collaborated with Melbourne Zoo to establish the Growing Wild Ground Zone precinct. Designed to engage with children of all ages, but particularly those aged 3 to 8 years, the precinct features parallel-play, exploration and discovery spaces, and provides opportunities for close up wildlife experiences. 

Project Details

ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects & Jeanons Landscape Architects

Winner Category 6 Landscaping /Outdoor Learning Area

Elliott Avenue Parkville, Victoria 3052 Australia

Wayne Stephens


Andrew Lloyd; Cloud 9 Aerial Photography; and Elizabeth Kuiper

Project Overview

ClarkeHopkinsClarke, Jeavons Landscape and Arterial Design, worked collaboratively with Melbourne Zoo to establish the new ‘Ground Zone’ within the proposed ‘Growing Wild’ precinct. Growing Wild will comprise three distinct zones; Tree, Water and Ground, with the Ground Zone the first to be realised. The project comprises new learning/play spaces accessible to all, yet aimed at children aged 3 to 8 years. It features parallel-play, exploration and discovery spaces, and provides opportunities for close up wildlife experiences, performance, fun and engagement.

Melbourne Zoo’s pedagogy for Early Childhood education has a strong focus on and appreciation of the natural world through multi-sensory play based learning, whereby students are involved in child-directed play and learning, guided play and learning, and adult-led learning, with opportunities to connect with animals and nature.

As children enter the Ground Zone and explore the landscaped area they encounter a number of learning/play elements that are tailored to develop a strong connection with and understanding of the wildlife and environment. They have the opportunity to see the world as a meerkat, discovering what it’s like to crawl through a maze of tunnels, patrol for danger on top of mounds, dig in the ground for food, and jump, climb, scurry, scramble on rocks/logs, as well as engaging in eye contact with meerkats through pop up insertions in the meerkat enclosures. They can experience life as a tortoise, crawling inside a Giant Tortoise shell to get a tortoise-eye view of the world, strapping a shell on and navigating between narrow tree trunks, discovering how many children it takes to weigh the same as a Giant Tortoise. They are immersed in the land of ground dwelling animals, collecting blue objects like a Satin Bowerbird, venturing into bushy shrubbery as part of a Quokka colony, a nd wearing a Brush Turkey claw to scrimmage around in nests to find and protect eggs.

Through developing an exciting, engaging and immersive experience for visitors to discover the animals and plants, and encouraging hands on engagement during playful and educational experiences, the project supports Melbourne Zoo’s key strategic aim to connect children and their families with nature.

This page last updated: Sunday 1 December 2013