A finely crafted ‘machine’ with efficiency, resilience and passive sustainability at its core design

7534 Lincoln University Ag Research JF
7534 Lincoln University Ag Research JF

Located at Massey University’s Manawatu Campus, Te Ohu Rangahau Kai is a 5,000m2 three-storey building that incorporates world-leading labs with workspaces to enhance opportunities for collaboration and information sharing.

Te Ohu Rangahau Kai provides the research front door to the food HQ, offering strong links across two major campus’ and bringing three leading food research organisations (AgResearch, Massey, Riddet Institute) under one roof.

The brief evolved from the Food HQ Masterplan that links the Massey University campus, AgResearch Grasslands Campus and adjacent food facilities. The client wanted to create a centre of research excellence that provides a platform for the country’s best researchers and scientists in the fields of dairy and red meat research to collaborate together with the intention of creating a world-class research institute.

The design response is a finely crafted research machine with efficiency, resilience and passive sustainability at its core. The design acknowledges context, adjacent buildings, the local environment and the close connection to agriculture shared by all three organisations, all of which drove the form, detailed articulation and environmental performance.

The materials and design are a rationalised response to express the simple, highly crafted research facility. The rectangular three-storey form is constructed with an efficient large moment frame structure that allows for maximum internal planning flexibility, clad with a high-performing unitised façade system with significant areas of operable windows for natural ventilation. Materials are pared back where possible to expose the structure, allowing the strong resilient building to be read throughout. The external form is wrapped in a veil of 14m-high, free spanning posts that provides a conceptual ‘shelterbelt’. Delivering shading to the naturally ventilated office areas of the building, it also reflects common elements from the local rural context that acknowledges the agricultural identity of AgResearch and Massey University.

The building is divided into three distinct zones to provide optimal efficiency in thermal envelope, floor area and optimised mechanical systems. The key strategies include fully naturally ventilated office space, main open stair utilised as air chimney to support natural ventilation system, external veil screen modelled to provide optimal shading to naturally ventilated areas. The building plant room includes highly efficient equipment that is carefully monitored and tuned to reduce energy use and running costs. The location of the plant rooms is immediately adjacent to the lab areas they support to reduce duct runs. Low energy use and low water use fittings are specified along with access to campus bike parks and end-of-trip facilities to encourage zero carbon transportation. A key strategy for the project was to reduce materials throughout and use non-Red List material selections where possible. A focus on natural light was paramount and floor to floor glazing allows with strong connections to the external environment supporting the wellbeing of the staff within sustainability benchmarks.

The building utilises BIM and extensive modelling was completed to optimise the energy and daylighting requirements.

"This project has been a journey of collaboration between three client organisations; AgResearch, Massey University and the Riddet Institute. It was facilitated by two architects who managed the intricate complexity of a building that sits between the worlds of research and education. A diagram in efficiency, Te Ohu Rangahau Kai is surrounded by an external veil of impossibly long and slender posts that lift the simple form beyond the functional. Sitting amid the leafy Massey campus and with extensive natural views, this innovative building will service the generation of research and development for many years to come." - NZIA Western Architecture Awards jury.

Labworks Architects provided laboratory architectural services for the laboratory areas of the project.

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