Sustainability at UWA

Project Zoo 2001

Homestead Farm Refurbishment of Display Centre

the Alternative Technology Association, Perth Zoo and the University of W.A. Architecture Department won a $21,000 grant from the State Government (AEDB) to construct, renovate and repair the displays and models at the Perth Zoo's Homestead Farm. The facility is used to teach school groups about solar and wind power and the associated technology (inverters etc) and environmentally sustainable technology concepts such as energy efficient housing and permaculture. 60,000 students from schools in Western Australia, and adults, pass through the farm each year making it an excellent venue for teaching and publicity. Some 600,000 people visit the Zoo every year.

Zoo display solar houseZoo kitchenZoo homestead

Project description

The project is to refurbish, rebuild and create new educational displays and systems at the Homestead Farm in the Perth Zoo. The intent is to build new interactive displays as these are proven to be most effective at imparting a long-term memory of information presented. They are also more fun and require active participation of the learner.

The farm was constructed with funds provided in a lump grant some years ago and includes renewable energy power systems, solar and wind. Since being installed many of these systems have fallen into disrepair. Displays and models have also received little attention and the general appearance of the Homestead is one of abandonment and non-functioning systems.

Project objectives

The purpose of the project was to bring renewable technology and energy efficient housing to the general public especially school children and people living in WA. The displays are aimed at being fully functioning systems so individuals can visualise full-scale systems with ease. Displays are interactive wherever possible. Information resources - booklets, publications and information sheets are made available and formal classes run where requested. The ATA, University Architecture Department and Zoo will cooperate to provide expert teachers where possible for prearranged course bookings. Publicity is provided so that schools are aware of course availability.


  • To promote renewable energy development in Western Australia by providing a world class educational facility, with expert trainers being available to schools and the general public at the Perth Zoo.
  • To set up the infrastructure to ensure that the Homestead Farm remains a current and vital educational facility for the long term by creating a sense of ownership amongst a group off interested parties (the ATA, UWA and Zoo initially).

Impact on renewable energy consumption
The project will endeavour to make school students and the general public aware of the possibilities of renewable energy, sustainable living and solar passive housing. Information is designed to be hands on and displays will indicate the advantages and limitations of these technologies in a pragmatic and realistic sense.

Audience size, penetration, access and composition
Over 60,000 visitors pass through the Homestead Farm each year. Most of these visitors are school children. This is a very impressive audience size and in the context of the Homestead Farm, where a coherent and controlled teaching environment can be achieved with modest effort represents a major opportunity to educate these people.

Short and medium term objectives

  • A feedback sheet will be prepared and supplied to as wide a range of our audience as possible. The feedback sheet will ask pertinent questions and for the public to score the facility for quality, content and appropriateness. Separate questionnaires will be made available to teaching supervisors, children and the general public.
  • The number of visitors confirmed bookings and presentations made will be logged. Hours of presentation time and overall time will be logged.

Long-term objectives

  • That the overall understanding of renewable energy concepts improves in the community.
  • That the community knows what industries and products are available locally and how to contact those industries.
  • That the Homestead Farm, University of WA Architecture and Fine Arts Department and ATA become well known in Western Australia for expert knowledge in this field.


The project was successfully completed in June 2001 with its reopening coinciding with World Environment Day.

 Zoo Homestead area plan

Plan of the Homestead Farm display

Zoo UWA Architecture students1Zoo UWA Architecture students2

University of WA Architecture students working on the garden area on 11 August 2000 as part of a busy bee and to get first hand knowledge of the Homestead Farm. As part of their formal course work, the students generated ideas for the Homestead, constructing posters and constructed professional quality models.