Penguin Parade Visitor Centre


  • TERROIR (Architect)
  • Phillip Island Nature Parks (Client)
  • AECOM (Project Manager)
  • Tract/ Wood & Grieve/ Thylacine (Consultants)
  • Kane Constructions (Builder)


The Penguin Parade at Summerland Peninsula on Philip Island is the number one natural wildlife attraction in Australia, with up to 3800 people every evening coming to see the penguins come ashore in a spectacular but sensitive landscape. At the same time, Philip Island Nature Parks has become a pre-eminent authority on care for penguins and development of penguin habitat. The new Visitor Centre for the Penguin Parade has to carry the ambitions of this tourism and conservation program across iconographic, experiential and functional contexts.

Key Features


The building sits at the nexus of 3 landscapes: dunes, headland and wetland, linking these landscapes like a brooch that gathers together and responds to each in specific ways – formally and experientially. The power of the three landscapes is acknowledged in the homogenous zinc cladding to the building that increases its abstraction while providing a constant against which the three landscapes are registered.

The exposed timber structure and plywood lined interior is structured around a major circulation path that forms a spine off which are arranged a series of dedicated spaces for ticketing, education, interpretation, retail and restaurants.


Key impacts

• Delivers 6.7ha of new Penguin Habitat
• A strong visual impact from the point of arrival but not from the distance within its sensitive landscape.
• A building that operates day and night, meeting the needs of visitors to the Penguin Parade and the broader Summerland Peninsula alike and efficiently caters for small and large crowds
• Minimal impact on operations and penguins during construction.
• Disability and child friendly.
• Integral to Phillip Island Nature Parks target to achieve Carbon, Water and Waste Neutrality.


The redevelopment of the Penguin Parade building is a transformative experience for visitors. The previous building – located astride potential penguin habitat with a large waiting hall and exit to the penguin experience, is being replaced by a new building with a more layered approach to the environment and visitor experience.
The spatial organisation of the building around three landscapes makes them visible and promotes interpretation and experience of all three. Thus the ecological characteristics of the peninsula are driving experiences and income in additional ways than just the popular twilight penguin experience, with increased revenue for research and conservation programs.


The key move made early in the project was to take the Masterplan reference design and innovatively turn it through 90 degrees so that the building circulation forms part of the journey from arrival to penguin viewing experience. Better pedestrian flows, more visibility to landscape, and more undercover areas on this journey, all improve visitor experience. Having created a long internal circulation space, it was enriched in multiple ways, such that it has capacity for large crowds, is lined with interpretation elements and niche spaces for smaller groups, and also opens onto a range of commercial and interpretive functions.


Environmental considerations were paramount and informed decisions towards the ultimate goal of Phillip Island Nature Parks to become carbon, energy and waste neutral:

• The new Visitor Centre has a smaller environmental footprint than the previous 1980’s facility.
• Over 85% of construction waste successfully recycled and diverted from landfill.
• Low carbon building materials been used, including over 25,000 lineal metres of certified, sustainably-sourced Victorian Ash to create 750 metres of structural Glulam beams, spanning up to 16 metres.
• 666 solar panels, outputting a total of 206,440kW.
• Rainwater filtration and re-use for non-potable use.
• Double-glazed windows and increased roof and floor insulation.

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