Penguins Café: Edinburgh Zoo

Having worked with Edinburgh Zoo on projects in the past, we were delighted to be invited back to assist them with their renovation of the Penguins Café.

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  • Project Size: 135 sqm
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Year: 2023
  • Type/Service: Design & Build

Overlooking the world-famous Penguins Rock, the Café offers spectacular views of the Pentland Hills. The Design & Build project focused on the upgrading of the tired and inefficient space. Working in partnership with the Zoo team to optimise accessibility and a cosmetic refresh of the café, to meet the ambitious project completion timelines and ensure it was ready for the opening weekend of the school summer holidays.


Working together with the client, we started with a session to understand the brief and develop innovative solutions to improve the café’s overall experience for visitors. This included streamlining queue flow, cleanable soft furnishings, and installing acoustic rafts to mitigate excessive noise. To infuse the lively penguin’s enclosure spirit into the café, we explored various ways to integrate the branding seamlessly.

We developed a plan to optimise the café’s flooring. By introducing a spectrum of colours, we subtly defined seating areas and pathways to enhance the overall flow and efficiently manage high foot-traffic.


With a strong commitment to sustainability, we repurposed existing elements, such as the survey counter and banquet seating. We also used the client-provided historical black and white photographs to create fun, themed pebble-shaped graphic manifestations, further enhancing the café’s unique charm.

The Result

The culmination of our efforts resulted in the transformation of the Penguins Café. A combination of cosmetic updates, new flooring, improved acoustics, and refreshed branding breathes new life into the space. The dining area now feels more spacious, dynamic and efficiently organised, meeting the project goals of rejuvenation.

  • Working with the proactive and trusting team at the Penguin Café
  • Creating a fun design solution to maximise the Café’s appeal to customers of all ages
  • Adapting the design plan to ensure the engaging penguin theme was incorporated throughout the Café