Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven, Manon Otto, Leslie Norris, Cyril Pavlu, Jan Wańczyk, Siyu Lu
Ralph Applebaum Associates, Re:Public Urbanism, Fennessy Consulting Services, Town Square, Momentum, WSP
Beloved Toronto Zoo gets an energetic update enhancing experiences for animals, guests, and staff and volunteers alike
Nestled in the Rouge River Valley and a stone’s throw from the vibrant downtown core is the beloved Toronto Zoo, an incredibly well-visited, unique Toronto attraction. The comprehensive Toronto Zoo Master Plan injects energy into a bustling yet ageing site while also providing a blueprint for the evolution of the Zoo covering the next twenty years. The Zoo's needs are shifting, which requires a re-thinking of the site to better serve the many species that call the Zoo home; additionally, guest experience is improved to facilitate and showcase the world-class research and animal care already taking place onsite. Building on the site’s existing successful qualities and assets, the master plan concept proposes a plethora of new programs, buildings, and experiences. New and returning guests are treated with awe filled journeys, enticing them to extend their stay and return to enjoy the novelty of discoveries each season provides.
Mandaworks is fortunate to lead the team bringing the vision to life through collaboration. This expansive, complex, and multi-faceted project involves field experts including Ralph Applebaum Associates (New York), Re:Public Urbanism (Montreal), Fennessy Consulting Services, Town Square (New York), Momentum (Montreal) and WSP (Toronto).
The Zoo today
Vision for tomorrow
The Toronto Zoo is a site of considerable contrasts: dense pockets of bustling activity with urban qualities at its centre and at the periphery, tranquil and serene, natural landscape pockets. The over-arching design concept, Zoo of Contrasts, builds off of these amazing qualities, enhancing each, and accentuating the differences between the two as a way to create even more diverse and intriguing experiences when they are expanded and experienced in comparison to each other.
New Master Plan - a vision for the next twenty years
Four Cares - a unique mix of stakeholders
In the Zoo’s 2020 Strategic Plan a series of four pillars, or four “cares”, was adopted, acting as the guiding foundation for all of the Zoo’s work. In the Master Plan, these four cares define the unique mix of stakeholders - both animal and human - who are being designed for, as it is these four groups that together make up the heart of the Zoo today and in the future.
The District and The Park - the bustling and the serene
Two contrasting identities are developed across the site with The District becoming the vibrant, bustling, urban heart of the Zoo of tomorrow, where dense hubs of activity will occur, supported by technology and a higher density of programs in central areas. This is surrounded by The Park zone, offering expansive landscapes where it is possible to get momentarily lost in exploration and enjoy both the serenity and tranquillity of nature, as well as the exciting experience of ”discovering” animals in larger, immersive habitats.
Winter Viewing and Holding Pavilion - an extensive indoor habitat for African species
The proposed Indoor Winter Viewing and Holding Pavilion, centrally located at the Zoo and well-connected to existing Savanna habitats, creates an extensive indoor habitat for African species currently not on display in winter. This pavilion becomes an extension of the landscape and offers new opportunities for rentable spaces in the summer with views directly onto Savanna species in their outdoor habitat.
Wilderness North - a Canadian overnight experience
Today, this corner of the Zoo boasts an incredible, almost pastoral landscape. Wilderness North brings native Canadian species up to this corner, adding all-season yurts to this expansive landscape, inviting guests to stay overnight with the feeling of being embedded right in the habitat.
Gorilland - creating new experiences for animals and guests
Refurbishment of the African Rainforest Pavilion elevates pockets for guests within the building, connecting them to create larger, internal habitat areas for species allowing for more ground plane for the animals. 360 transfer tubes extend outside of the building to create a deepened experience and connection with surrounding habitats. Within the pavilion the 360 transfer tubes function to bring guests up and above the existing landscape, providing new and enriched encounters for both humans and animals.
Saving Species Sanctuary
Nutrition Centre and Restaurant
An array of projects welcoming a diversity of programs and guests
Projects within the Master Plan bring a diversity of new offerings to the Zoo, constantly going above and beyond to continue enhancing animal welfare, while offering novel experiences that invite guests to the site. These projects create new opportunities and partnerships with the community, facilitate the work of staff and volunteers and improve sustainability on site and beyond. A new Nutrition Centre and Restaurant, a Saving Species Sanctuary, and a Tigerline (a connected elevated habitat) provide new experiences for animals and guests, while welcoming new partnerships, reducing the Zoo’s carbon footprint, and improving site sustainability.
Safari Meander landscape journey
The Safari Meander creates a large, connected habitat by bridging the landscape over a guest path, pulling guests in a tunnel underneath it, creating a Safari feeling and a journey of discovery. This immersive tunnel below the elevated landscape functions as a forum for dialogue, hosting displays and installations that further enhance the guest experience in the expansive Savanna habitat.