The Longbush Ecosanctuary Welcome Shelter, located near Gisborne on the East Coast of NZ is an innovative environmental education space designed, constructed and operated by a group of passionate volunteers, with the support of local businesses and charitable organizations. Access to the Welcome Shelter is free of charge for all visitors and the project aims to promote active stewardship of our natural environment both in conservation areas and in our cities.

The Longbush Ecosanctuary holds a high variety of wildlife

The Longbush Ecosanctuary itself is home to a wide range of New Zealand's native birds. The North Island Black Robin, Titi, Tui, Kereru, Korimako, Fantail, Kingfisher, Ruru, Tomtit, Popokotea, Karearea, Grey Warbler and Pipiwharauroa all call Longbush home. Longbush also supports an increasingly diverse range of plant species, including rare and endangered species. The eco-sanctuary also holds grey gecko lizards, long-tailed bats and black headed tree weta grasshoppers. The diversity of the wildlife in the bush increases to grow through active reintroduction of new species as well as through natural migration.

The architect as a leader within communities

The project was generated and designed by the award winning designer Sarosh Mulla. Mr Mulla’s current doctoral research focuses on creating innovative forms of architecture for the New Zealand tourism industry, while continuing to promote the role of the architect as a leader within communities.

Welcome Shelter is the central design work of Sarosh Mulla

The design research looks at how architecture has been used in viewing the New Zealand landscape since colonisation and amplifies the techniques drawn from the European Picturesque in defining images of the landscape as imaginative historic constructions. The Welcome Shelter is the central design work of Sarosh Mulla's PhD in Architecture by Creative Practice. The Welcome Shelter is the largest volunteer constructed piece of public architecture in New Zealand.

The shelter should encourage tourists to partake in environmental restoration

Mulla has led a team of 88 volunteers in the construction of the space that provides facilities for visiting school groups, ecologists and tourists. The design of the structure draws on the framing techniques of the Picturesque, but applies these through contemporary forms, which promote active engagement with the environment. Rather than simply viewing the landscape, visitors are encouraged to take part in the environmental restoration occurring at the ecosanctuary through the programs offered at the Welcome Shelter.

The Welcome Shelter is a gateway to endangered species

The Welcome Shelter is a gateway for visitors to this special environment, which includes several critically endangered native species. The ecosanctuary is approximately 120 hectares and over the past 15 years has been the rapidly restored through the efforts of Jeremy and Dame Anne Salmond. With the removal of invasive pests and weeds, alongside the planting of hundreds of thousands of native trees, the diverse ecology at Longbush is beginning to thrive again.

“Social sustainability is an ongoing theme in my design research”

Mulla comments about his projects: “My architectural practice is research. It is an opportunity to experiment and test ideas and their tectonic resolution. The ways in which architecture can facilitate social sustainability is an ongoing theme in my design research. That is not only sustainability in the sense of “green” technology, but as a more holistic approach to how we inhabit the planet and how creating well-functioning communities can have a positive effect on the environments in which they exist.”

Never before in New Zealand history has such a large and diverse group of volunteers and sponsors created a piece of public architecture. The Welcome Shelter creates a new benchmark for high quality community generated architecture that responds to the needs of the local environment.


Explore the Welcome Shelter