Jock the silverback gorilla at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Exciting plans for a new Bristol Zoo take another step forward

Plans for a world-leading zoo for the south west have taken another step forward as Bristol Zoological Society reveals the team of consultants appointed to create its new vision.

The Society will develop a new world-class Bristol Zoo at its Wild Place Project site on the northern edge of Bristol, which will set the standard for a modern, forward-looking zoo in the 21st century.

The new Bristol Zoo will open in 2024, offering spacious facilities, significant growth in conservation and education work and a ground-breaking, innovative visitor experience.

Now Bristol Zoological Society has announced an award-winning team of architects, designers, engineers and environmental experts chosen to bring the plans to life. 

Pioneering landscape architects, Grant Associates, have been appointed as lead designers and landscape architects for the new Bristol Zoo. Through their work, the Bath-based team aims to reconnect people with nature in insightful and distinctive ways while addressing the global challenges of urbanisation, the climate crisis and biodiversity extinction. 

Portrait of Andrew Grant-Founder Director of Grant Associates
Andrew Grant, Founder Director of Grant Associates

Grant Associates have previously worked on the world-famous Gardens by the Bay in Singapore as well as Bristol Harbourside and the YTL Brabazon project in Filton, Bristol.

The Society has also appointed award-winning architects and urban design practice, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS).

Portrait of Peter Clegg, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Peter Clegg, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

FCBS has an international reputation for design quality, for pioneering environmental expertise and a progressive architectural approach. The work of FCBS has frequently been recognised in major industry awards, including winning 55 awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). 

Previous work includes the Bath Abbey Footprint Project, the University of Roehampton Library and a number of projects at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Bristol Zoological Society has previously worked with both Grant Associates and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios on the development of a new conservation research centre in Madagascar, where conservationists from the Society work to protect threatened lemurs and their habitats in the wild.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios - Ankarafa Field Station in Madagascar visualisation
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios – Ankarafa Field Station in Madagascar visualisation

Momentum structural and civil engineers have also been appointed, having previously worked on the award-winning multi-million pound redevelopment of Bristol Old Vic and the temporary installation of a performance space in the ruins of the 12th century Temple Church in Bristol’s Temple Gardens. 

E3 Consulting Engineers will also join the team, having been selected for their award winning, low-energy engineering designs, which minimise buildings’ impacts on the environment. Their previous work includes the welcome centre at Westonbirt Arboretum, Bath Thermae Spa, Bordeaux Quay, Theatre Royal, Bath, and Bicester Eco Business Centre.

Avison Young have been appointed as town planning advisors and will lead the proposals through the planning process. Avison Young has been involved in many of the region’s most significant planning proposals over recent years, such as for the YTL Arena Bristol and the Wave – UK’s first inland surf destination.

Specialists have also been appointed to provide additional expertise including arboriculturists, Wotton Tree Consultancy; ecology consultant Clarkson and Woods; and transport and sustainability infrastructure consultant, Hydrock.

Francesca Fryer, Director of Transformation at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “The opportunity we have ahead of us, of a new Bristol Zoo, offers the chance to create something truly spectacular at our Wild Place Project site.

“In addition to our existing exhibits, such as the hugely popular Bear Wood, Discover Madagascar and Benoue National Park, we will create immersive new exhibits which will link visitors to our conservation projects around the world, develop new veterinary and education facilities and provide the tools for visitors to become conservationists themselves.

“We look forward to the exciting collaboration process both with our award-winning, multi-disciplinary team of designers, the Society’s in-house experts and the wider Bristol community to create a visitor attraction that will be a beacon of conservation and environmental sustainability, demonstrating and promoting how together we can save wildlife in the way we live our lives.”

The appointments follow the announcement last year that Bristol Zoological Society, which owns and operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, intends to sell the Bristol Zoo Gardens site to safeguard the future of Bristol Zoological Society and relocate Bristol Zoo to the Wild Place Project site to create a new world-class Bristol Zoo.

Francesca added: “We are excited to share our ideas with our visitors and supporters, and to hear their feedback and ideas on how to make this a world-class Bristol Zoo for the city and the south west, that we will all be hugely proud of for generations to come.”

Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton will remain open to the public until late 2022 and visitors will not see an immediate change while plans are developed further. Wild Place Project will remain open throughout this time, until it becomes the new Bristol Zoo from early 2024. 

Bristol Zoological Society will share further plans for the new Bristol Zoo site later this year.

Andrew Grant, Director of Grant Associates, said: “We are honoured to have been given this unique opportunity to help shape the new Bristol Zoo as an inspirational centre for wildlife conservation. 

“The Wild Place site provides a special foundation for this ambitious project and is the perfect setting to better understand our relationship with native and global nature and biodiversity.

“With care for animals at the heart of the designs, we are excited by the prospect of developing a sensitive, ecologically diverse, creative and memorable experience for everyone.”

Peter Clegg, Senior Partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, added: “Our vision for the new zoo is based around landscape, biodiversity and a sustainable future. 

“We are thrilled to be appointed to the project and to continue to develop close relationships with the zoo to further their conservation and research work. 

“We are looking forward to preparing plans that make the most of the existing buildings on site and creating new facilities for the visitors, the staff and most of all, the animals.”

Bristol Zoological Society recently launched its new Strategy to 2035, setting out its commitment for wildlife to be part of everyone’s lives and re-affirmed its mission of saving wildlife together.

This new strategy will ensure that Bristol Zoo continues to exist for generations to come, offering millions more people the opportunity to experience the magic of a new Bristol Zoo, in its new home at the Wild Place Project site.

Find out more about how Bristol Zoological Society is safeguarding its future.