Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes, Southwest England residential property design

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton property

4 July 2023

Design: Perkins&Will’s London studio

Perkins&Will achieve resolution to grant planning for Bristol Zoo Gardens

London – Perkins&Will (previously Penoyre & Prasad) has secured resolution to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Bristol Zoo Gardens. The plans were submitted by Bristol Zoological Society, who have owned and managed the 12-acre Clifton site since it first opened in 1836.

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton property
images courtesy of architects practice

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes in southwest England

Developed through extensive public consultation, the mixed-use masterplan restores and re-purposes the iconic site as a residential-led development with significant public realm, offering free public access to the gardens for the first time.

The plans include 196 high-quality, sustainable homes of mixed tenure, of which 20 percent will be affordable. The redevelopment will also enhance the site’s historical gardens and lake areas.

Bristol Zoological Society will use the sale to fund the creation of a new conservation zoo at Wild Place Project, on the outskirts of Bristol. With construction expected to start in 2024, the Society will create new visitor facilities, new exciting play areas, new animal homes with new species, and a conservation campus for students, scientists, and the breeding of highly threatened animals.

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes aerial

At the old zoo site in Clifton, some of the most iconic buildings will be sensitively restored and converted, with care taken to maintain their heritage features. Retained buildings include the Grade II Listed Giraffe House and the locally listed Clifton Pavilion. The new buildings, designed to high standards of sustainability, will complement the site’s existing architectural character.

The redevelopment will also ensure the site’s future as a local community asset. The site will be opened to the public, with unrestricted daytime access to the park for leisure, recreation, and events. For the first time in the site’s history, access to the gardens will be free, offering new amenities such as a nature-inspired play area. The site’s Grade II Listed entrance lodge will become the Clifton Conservation Hub, providing a permanent base for the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project and will include a cafe, exhibition spaces, and community rooms.

Bristol Zoo Gardens’ Victorian heritage informed the design team’s architectural and landscape strategy for the site, with Perkins&Will identifying two predominant existing building typologies: ‘boundary wall buildings’ and ‘garden pavilion buildings’. This strategy informs how new buildings will sit within the site and relate both to each other and the wider area.

New buildings planned for the site include the perimeter buildings, designed to resemble the walls enclosing a secret garden. They will feature green roofs equipped with solar panels, terraces with built-in brick planters, and easy access to the Clifton Conservation Hub and the central gardens.

Overlooking a remodelled lake, new Lake Houses are designed to complement the site’s other-worldly feel. Flanking the Giraffe House, their architecture references this heritage building with tall windows similar in proportion to the oversized doors of the original and roofs of similar pitch and area. Green glazed bricks and ‘scaly’ roof tiles clad the exteriors.

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes UK

The approved proposals also champion cycling as a sustainable method of transport, with 535 cycle spaces provided across the site. The site’s 120 car parking spaces are predominantly located in the under croft of the perimeter buildings and will be equipped with EV charging points.

Originally submitted in May 2022, the planning application was revised and resubmitted in October 2022 in response to consultation feedback from Bristol City Council, Historic England and Design West. Further enhancements include an improved entrance to the site to encourage greater ease of public access and a new pedestrian-only entrance on College Road.

Sunand Prasad, Principal, Perkins&Will, said:
“Our approved plans will enable Bristol Zoological Society to invest in Wild Place Project, focus on conservation and secure the long-term future of the Society. It is a complex site with an assemblage of local and regionally significant heritage assets, which, through a careful and considered approach to regeneration, can take on a new lease of life as a mixed-use development that sustainably blends housing with new community access and uses, to be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Justin Morris, Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said:
“Our journey to develop a progressive conservation zoo at Wild Place Project has moved a significant step forward, with the approval of the planning application for Bristol Zoo Gardens. As Clifton residents since 1836, we want to leave behind a legacy that we can all be proud of. Perkins&Will has delivered a brilliant design. It is great to see the progress being made on the redevelopment of this historically important location.”

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes lawn


Perkins&Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. Guided by its core values—design excellence, diversity and inclusion, living design, research, resilience, social purpose, sustainability, and well-being—the firm is committed to designing a better, more beautiful world. Architizer named Perkins&Will the world’s “Best Sustainable Firm” in 2023, and Metropolis named it “Firm of the Year” in 2022 for its industry leadership in advancing climate action and social justice.

Fast Company named Perkins&Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture three times, and in 2021, it added the firm to its list of Brands That Matter—making Perkins&Will the first architecture practice in the world to earn the distinction. With an international team of more than 2,000 professionals, the firm has over 20 studios worldwide, providing integrated services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture.

Industry rankings consistently place the firm among the world’s top design practices. Partners include Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen; retail strategy and design consultancy Portland; sustainable transportation planning consultancy Nelson\Nygaard; and luxury hospitality design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit

Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes – Property Information

Design team

Client: Bristol, Clifton & West of England Zoological Society Ltd (BCWEZS)
Architect: Perkins&Will (formerly Penoyre & Prasad)
Landscape Architect: Land Use Consultants (LUC)
Heritage Consultant: Alan Baxter
Planning Consultant: Savills
Development Advisors: Savills
Sustainability Consultant &
Service Engineer: Max Fordham
Structural & Civil Engineer: Price & Myers
Transport Consultant: Peter Evans Partnership (PEP)
Arboriculturist: Wotton Tree Consultancy (WTC)
Ecologist: The Landmark Practice
Daylight / Sunlight: Delva Batman Redler
Noise: Hydrock
Air Quality: Hydrock
BREEAM Assessor: Method Consulting
Flood Risk & Drainage: Price & Myers


Bristol Zoo Gardens Clifton homes images / information from Perkins&Will Architects

Location: Bristol, south west England, United Kingdom

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