Taronga Institute of Science and Learning

Case Study

Taronga Zoo - Sydney, AU


Richard Whitbread

The Project

Situated on the picturesque shores of Sydney Harbor in New South Wales, Australia, Taronga Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals from more than 350 species. Over it’s 100 year history, Taronga Zoo has seen a lot of change and development. The Zoo has a strong commitment to conservation, scientific research and education. With this ethos at their core and to help shape a future for wildlife and people, the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning was commissioned to be a living laboratory for scientific investigation and conservation education, built to empower the scientists and conservationists of tomorrow.

To be the first of its kind in the Southern hemisphere, the world-class institute will bring science and learning together with immersive habitat classrooms themed around desert, rainforest and woodland habitats, and purpose-built laboratories such as the cyroreserve, multi-disciplinary research laboratory and teaching laboratory. The institute would also house a grand lecture theater, large open atrium, boardroom and offices. Acoustic consideration to reduce echo and reverberation within these spaces are very important components of this project.


The Acoustic Design and Installation

With the build site location set on a rolling hill, the shape and design of the building would follow the form of the land rather than disrupt it and trumpet up and outward into a wider reception area. The structure would be truly unique in shape both externally and internally. Inspired by nature and patterns found in DNA structures, the initial concept and detailed design for this project was conceived by Architect Ewan Saunders of NBRSARCHITECTURE and brought to life by Associate James Kim of BKA Architecture and Taylor Construction.

Two areas within the new institute that would require bespoke acoustic solutions to suit their unique settings were the auditorium and atrium. Two dynamic acoustic ceiling baffle systems were designed using the Autex Frontier system to reflect the natural forms of animals and plant life. Looking over the initial design concepts, the Autex design team lead by Senior Designer Jonathan Mountfort ascertained early in the project that there was going to be some tricky details that would require bespoke product and purpose-made fastenings and hangers. Autex collaborated with BKA Architecture, Taylor Construction and Auzoom Projects Pty Ltd to ensure details were resolved at the onset of the project and continued working closely with all parties throughout the construction phase to completion.

For the grand two story auditorium, a Frontier feature was designed based on a ribbon concept. The design was simplified into a series of Trapezoid shapes to create the atheistic of a ribbon without kinks; this slight change of shape gave a dramatic effect to the ceiling space. The design layout was simple yet effective and made for easy installation.

A secondary Frontier feature was designed to span over 40 meters in length, reflecting a natural abstract form similar to that of a back bone to represent the body of the zoo, leading you from the entrance into the greater expanse of atrium. Bringing the design concept to life would be no easy feat due to the unique shape of the curling corridor and a two directional raking ceiling creating a complex structure to fix to.

The design team created a custom two-part aluminium hinge to fix the outer fins in place, allowing them to sit perpendicular with the ground. In the center of the feature, large black powder coated Frontier channels were used in combination with modified hangers to suspend the large ‘V’ fins and keep them aligned with the rest of the design.

Mountfort says that the site visits during the construction phase were imperative to the success of creating the Frontier acoustic feature. “Attaining precise details such as on site building measurements and the curve that the ceiling would be, allowed us to calculate the height of the hangers and the angle the hinges would need to be, how the feature would fan around and how it would be divided up to keep all fins at an equal distance, made for a smooth install and to deliver the desired aesthetic.”

Other areas which also required acoustic treatment were the open-plan office spaces, meeting rooms and boardroom. For these focused spaces, a more subtle acoustic treatment was chosen in the form of acoustic paneling for the walls. High performance 25mm thick Quietspace® Panels faced with Vertiface® decorative fabric in the natural tones of Lime and Silver were applied to the office, meeting rooms and boardroom walls. Composition® in the earthy tone of Fawn was applied to a facing wall in the boardroom which required a thinner acoustic wall covering to allow for sliding wall partitions to run smoothly in a close parallel proximity.


The Result

The now complete Taronga Institute of Science and Learning has been very well received and all involved in the project are proud of the results.

James Kim of BKA Architecture was satisfied with both the aesthetics and function and appreciated that Autex were willing to deviate from the standard system to suit project requirements as well as provide design advice for some of the more complex details.

Mountfort says that our ability to take our standard products, reshape and adjust them to suit the clients brief as well as offering in-house design is exceptional, “As the manufacturer, designer and point of contact with the architect we are able to better customize the whole process all the way through from conception to completion, with an intimate understanding of the material right from the beginning”.

Auzoom were recognized by the Association of Wall & Ceiling Industries for the amazing work that went into this project, receiving the industries top award for excellence in the commercial sector for this project at the recent 2018 award ceremony. Auzoom credited working with Taylor Constructions Team, BKA Architecture, Autex and others to deliver the green stars public building in a challenging time frame, with stunning finishes and quality.

At Autex we are committed to working and engaging with architects, designers and customers to create better built environments through delivering high performing sustainable products, while also providing assistance with the quality assurance process on site and during the design and construction phase. We understand that no two projects are the same, and we are really proud of our ability to customize any of our products to create a bespoke solution to meet your brief. If you have an idea, let’s work together to make it happen. 

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The Products


Product: Frontier

Design: Bespoke

Color: Flatiron

Thickness: 1" fins

NRC: 0.85

Install Method: Direct fixed to ceiling with black powder coated Frontier channels and brackets.



Product: Frontier

Design: Bespoke

Color: Opera

Thickness: 1" fins

NRC: 0.85

Install Method: Combination of suspended and direct fixed to ceiling with black powder coated Frontier channels and custom brackets.


Boardroom and Offices

Product: Quietspace® Panel faced with Vertiface®

Color: Lime & Silver

Thickness: 0.98" panels

NRC: 0.85

Install Method: Quietspace Panels faced with Lime and Silver colored Vertiface fabric were direct fixed to walls in open office spaces and in Fawn colored Vertiface in the Boardroom.

Product: Composition®

Color: Fawn

Thickness: 0.12” - 0.16”

NRC: 0.40

Install Method: Composition was direct fixed to walls in open office spaces and in Fawn colored Vertiface in the Boardroom.

BKA Architecture

BKA Architecture is an established studio with a reputation for creating outstanding architecture. With a team of around 30 design professionals, their focus includes all types and scale of residential, educational and commercial projects. Alongside good architecture, BKA is passionate about sustainable design and is committed to gender equality in architecture.

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Auzoom Projects Pty Ltd

Auzoom Projects Pty Ltd are celebrating 10 years’ anniversary in commercial wall and ceiling lining business. Based in Silverwater, Australia Auzoom provide a variety of installation services for both commercial and residential projects.

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