Laing O’Rourke has won the job to transform part of Chester Zoo into ‘exotic’ islands as part of a £30m project

Chester Zoo said it had appointed Laing O’Rourke to the job, which involves developing part of its site into the “exotic islands” of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.

Chester Zoo said work would start in August 2013, with the £30m Islands project to open to the public in 2015.

The architect on the project is Dan Pearlman.

According to construction database Barbour ABI, the construction job is worth £16m.

Linked by a series of bridges and including a journey on water, Islands will be home to animals and plants from South-east Asian islands.

It will include a new Indonesian jungle house, which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK and will house Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and a sunda gavial crocodile.

It’s expected that it will take visitors two hours to journey their way around Islands.

Simon Mann, Chester Zoo’s Development Director, said: “This marks a new stage in the development of Chester Zoo and it will be unlike anything experienced before in a UK zoo.

“Islands is a complex project that includes the creation of landscaping themed to each island, an exotic boat journey and world-class animal exhibits which marry the exact needs of our animals with the best experience for visitors.

“We’re bringing these islands to life, right here in the heart of leafy Cheshire, and making the opportunity to visit these far-flung places a reality for many people. Finding a company who can understand our ethos and work confidently with us through the build process was vital.”

Tom Higgins, who leads Laing O’Rourke’s northern business, said: “Laing O’Rourke is delighted to be working with Chester Zoo to deliver such an exciting project for the North West.

“We’ll apply the latest engineering solutions to the project, including digital engineering and Design for Manufacture and Assembly; techniques that will offer best value and allow for a more sustainable and safe delivery.”