MPI Multi-Purpose Building, Wallaceville

This project provided a much-needed facility for one of New Zealand’s leading research centres. The multi-purpose building is a place of reception and collaboration for the National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Diseases as well as the larger scientific community. The building contains a formal reception area, café, administration offices and multi-purpose rooms for meetings, seminars and functions. 

The project was awarded a five Green Star rating for office design due to its simple yet environmentally sound design and construction - a first for a Government developed building in NZ. Working within a tight site and 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 NZ’s forestry industry. 

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


The multi-purpose building is a freestanding, one-storey, well insulated wooden structure with a tilted roof, high efficiency double-glazing and insulated concrete floor slab. Materials were chosen for their durability and environmental friendliness while all plumbing fittings and fixtures are 5-star rated. 

The services design is centred around using the site characteristics, offering great daylight and natural ventilation possibilities. For a large part of the year the windows on opposite sides, in combination with the mono-pitch roof, will enable the building to use natural ventilation, increasing air quality and reducing energy consumption. 

The building is ventilated using a mixed mode system allowing the use of natural ventilation for most of the year, with the provision of a mechanical system to deal with the high heat loads created when seminars are held. The conference rooms have an underfloor ventilation supply in combination with a high level extract, securing an optimum air quality when mechanically ventilated. 

Created within the existing National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease (NCBID) campus the administration/cafeteria building effectively creates a centerpiece and reception point for the entire complex. However, it’s design also required the ability to easily and quickly transform into a response centre in the event of a disease outbreak or emergency for the NCBID. This essential condition could have resulted in a construct that resembled a bunker. Instead, this award-winning building has blended sustainable, innovative features with the site’s existing natural features to provide a design that has been described as ‘elegant’, ‘inviting’, and ‘lovely’. 


  • Green Good Design Award: Green Architecture, The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design (2012)
  • Sustainable Architecture Award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects Awards (Local)
  • Silver Design Award Built Environment, Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Best Design Awards (2010)
  • Sustainable System Award in the Resene Total Colour Awards
  • Highly Commended: Commercial Architectural Excellence, New Zealand Wood Timber Design Awards (2010)
  • Winner of Sustainability in the New Zealand Wood Timber Design Awards
  • Award of Com­mend­a­tion in Energy Efficiency in the EECA IESANZ Lighting Design Awards