Edmonton Valley Zoo Entry and Wander

New zoo features and facilities to get closer to nature

Civic & Culture

Part of a series of upgrades to the Edmonton Valley Zoo that focuses on getting guests closer to nature in the heart of Edmonton’s river valley, this project includes new entry and orientation plazas, a café, the Zootique gift shop, an education centre and guest services. A newly-designed central circulation path called The Wander tells the story of the North Saskatchewan River as guests move throughout the zoo. These upgrades drastically improve the first impression of the zoo, and set the stage for the whole experience of getting closer to nature.

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Location
Edmonton, AB
Client
City of Edmonton
Completion
2014
Collaborators

Ion Irrigation
Natural Systems International
Stuart Olson Construction
Studio Hansen Roberts
T.A. Maranda

DIALOG Services

Architecture
Electrical Engineering
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Mechanical Engineering
Structural Engineering

Rammed Earth

Guests are welcomed by a stunning rammed earth wall that announces their arrival at the refreshed zoo. The wall is made of compacted sediment, representing the stratified layers in nearby river banks.

Gathering Place

The entry plaza is more than a welcoming space for zoo visitors—it’s a gathering place in the river valley for the whole community.

Free to enjoy

You don’t have to pay admission to enjoy the plaza’s gift shop, café, rest areas, playful water feature and even watch the river otters play in their habitat.

Free to enjoy

You don’t have to pay admission to enjoy the plaza’s gift shop, café, rest areas, playful water feature and even watch the river otters play in their habitat.

Natural habitat

The buildings are designed to reflect their surroundings – Edmonton’s Aspen Parkland. Administration and educational facilities emerge from the valley, echoing nature through materiality and structure.

Once beyond the admission gates, The Wander connects guests to attractions and animal habitats, but it’s much more than just a circulation path.

The Wander tells the story of the North Saskatchewan River forming in the Rocky Mountains, flowing through the foothills and across the prairies before winding through Edmonton, around the zoo’s site.

It provides even more learning opportunities for guests, easy wayfinding, and glimpses into adjacent animal habitats along the way.

The landscape is meant to be explored – kids love climbing on the rocks, crawling in the beaver dam and splashing in the streams.

The Team

The design of our entry plaza really follows suit with the vision of creating a vibrant new zoo. It’s modern, but it keeps our ties to nature.

Heather Fedyna, Educational Interpreter
Evoke DIALOG | Edmonton Valley Zoo Entry and Wander | Edmonton, AB New zoo features and facilities to get closer to nature

The zoo is located in the heart of Edmonton’s river valley, beside a large public park on a bend of the North Saskatchewan River.

All of the buildings and landscape features echo the surrounding river valley and the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s mandate to get closer to nature. They are designed to look and feel as though they emerged naturally from the valley.

As visitors approach, they’re greeted with an impressive rammed earth wall. Designed to mirror the colored layers of the North Saskatchewan River banks, the wall is approximately 72 metres long and 60 centimetres thick, and it was the first of its kind to be used outdoors in a cold climate. The wall is exposed in one of the education centre’s multi-purpose rooms.

The entry plaza is a welcoming space for visitors and the community. Guests don’t have to pay admission to enjoy the plaza’s café and patio, gift shop, rest areas, and playful water features. They can even get a glimpse at the river otters playing – their habitat extends into the entry plaza. Families and cyclists using the nearby river valley parks and trails can stop in for a snack and water bottle refill.

Designed in collaboration with Studio Hanson Roberts, the circulation path known as The Wander tells the story of the North Saskatchewan River, starting in the Rocky Mountain glaciers, trickling through the foothills and across Alberta’s Aspen Parkland before winding around the site of the zoo. Kids can climb on a glacier, run and explore through a maze of rocks, splash in wetland pools, and experience the world from inside a beaver dam. The Wander leads back to the entry plaza, where a sturgeon-themed water play feature is a popular spot for kids.

Awards

2015 Award of Excellence – Regional MeritCanadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA)