The Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) Southern Crop Breeding Centre is a high quality flagship primary industry technology and national logistics hub for the growing and production of new wheat varieties. The new centre celebrates the company’s leading role in advancing and securing wheat production in Australia – AGT varieties are estimated to constitute 50 percent fo the Australian wheat crop and are worth over $5 billion annually to the Australian Economy.

Located in a prominent rural/industrial location adjacent Roseworthy Township the facility has been designed to optimise workflow and productivity and operate 24 hours to provide future adaptability as technologies and operational needs evolve. Likened to a merger between a cellar door, rural head office and research laboratory, the centre includes 6600m2 of co-joined administrative and specialised work facilities including a dough rheology laboratory, seed storage carousels, cool storage facilities, workshop, harvester shedding, greenhouses and a controlled environment research facility. Associated site infrastructure includes a landscaped driveway, detention basin, tank farm, greenhouses, a networked irrigation system, bird proof enclosure, plant nursery, demonstration and agronomy field blocks.

Underpinning AGT’s decision to invest in this major capital works project was a robust concept feasibility study led by Ashley Halliday. Working closely with AGT’s leadership group this study conceptualized several costed development options for the AGT Board to consider. Study options identified the implications of doing nothing to their existing leased facility on Adelaide University’s Roseworthy Campus through to the identification of several new greenfield site opportunities withinin the region.

The ulitimate layout, form and materiality of the building was driven by AGT’s strong teamwork model, its unique rural workplace culture and the desire for a relaxed yet professional work environment. Single level facilities are clustered around a central core containing reception point, general work, administrative and tea room spaces, creating a practical and highly efficient functional layout and circulation pattern. Cranking the main building form around the centre’s key circulation node defines a highly legible and welcoming public reception and gallery space. A patterned perforated screen wall (inspired by the pattern of harvesters in wheat fields) veils the north and north-western aspects of the main building from harsh solar conditions, significantly improving the buildings energy performance as well as preserving sight lines and vistas through the interior to the sites characterful rural setting. The form, scale and materiality of each building was influenced in equal measures by the opportunity to make natural light and ventilation ubiquitous and by the requirement to make each space as practical and efficient as possible.

Open space flows freely through the interior spaces following well defined circulation patterns. A practical, efficient and professional ambience is created through an open plan layout, legible wayfinding, an abundance of natural lighting and ventilation, and an uncomplicated materials palette (comprising warm grey carpet tile, polished concrete and technical flooring systems, transparent hardwood batten feature walls, off-white wall and ceiling linings, highlight wall colouring, expressed structural steel roof beams, and high performance clear glazing). The construction detailing and architecture of the building is relatively uncomplicated and robust in order to respond to an inherently practical functional brief.

The architectural significance of the project is defined by the resolution and reduction of the highly complicated spatial program into a simple composition of form, space and order that maintains a high level of integrity, from the smallest construction detail through to the largest.