MPI Multipurpose Building, Wallaceville

Sheltered amongst three mature tōtara and a line of oak trees stands the Ministry for Primary Industries' (formerly the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) new Multipurpose Building in Wallaceville, Upper Hutt. It provides a much-needed facility for one of New Zealand’s leading research centres.

The multipurpose building is a place of reception and collaboration for the National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Diseases and the larger scientific community. Comprised of two mono-pitched forms, the building contains a formal reception area, café, administration offices and multipurpose meeting/seminar/function rooms.

The project was awarded a five-star Green Star rating for office design for its simple but environmentally sound design and construction, a first for a government-developed building in New Zealand. Working on a tight site with an equally tight budget, this rating was achieved by adhering to the principles of ‘passive solar design’. The building, surrounded largely by trees, rises up on one side to collect as much sunlight as possible. This, combined with natural ventilation and high levels of insulation throughout, has removed the need for expensive climate control systems.

Designers chose building materials for their environmental sustainability as well as quality. The use of timber throughout also reflects both the setting and the client’s close association with New Zealand’s forestry industry.

This building is living proof that sustainable design can be achieved without costing the earth. The computer simulation of energy use for the Green Star application showed the building consumed just 39 kilowatt hours per square metre per year (a third of the Green Star benchmark).

An elegant building solution where  a restrained architectural palette provides clarity over a complex program.”
Timber Awards - Commercial Architecture category

“Elegant, but ambitious project to create a five green star rating multi-purpose timber building using a refined architectural palette”
Timber Awards - Sustainability

“From day to day, this building provides a communal cafe and kitchen with lecture facilities; during a national crisis it doubles as civil emergency centre for infectious disease. Such a programme demands a sensitive and sustainable response and the architects clearly met this brief. Of note are the integration of large totara that terminate galleries; the recycling of materials to create major joinery items; passive and active air management; storm water swales that give water back to the land; and comfortable acoustic and thermal environments. Possibly the biggest and most sustainable aspect is its dual use.” 
NZIA Awards - Local