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Plant & Food Research

Photo: Jason Mann Photography

PIONEERING & PRACTICAL SIDE BY SIDE Scientists at Plant & Food Research’s new facility in Port Nelson need only look out the window to see where their work brings results. Story by Maike van der Heide


view can make a big difference. Through the wall of glass that forms one side of their new building on Akersten St at Port Nelson, scientists at the Nelson Research Centre, a division of Plant & Food Research, catch glimpses of the region’s thriving fishing industry going about its business. Vessels come in, catches are unloaded, gear is checked and cleaned. It may not sound like much, but Helen Mussely, General Manager of Science for the Seafood Technologies division, says the sight of the very industry their research benefits is inspiring. “It feels like we’re in a good place – it suits us. The outlook reflects what we’re doing so that adds interest and works really well.” On a more practical level, the new building, which opened in May, is also located next to the research centre’s fin-fish breeding facility, which opened in 2014. The new building, designed by Jerram Tocker Barron Architects, was created in collaboration with Port Nelson Ltd as part of a seafood precinct development on the Akersten St peninsula. Plant & Food used to be located on Wakefield Quay but

ABOVE: Main building elevation viewed from the Port on dusk highlighting the transparency of the building

after 25 years of growth – from three staff to 50 – the scale and direction of research had long outgrown the space. “People were poked away in back corridors and might not see each other for weeks,” says Helen. “The Wakefield Quay building had evolved over many years, supporting work in quite specific areas, and you can’t expect an existing building to always be upgraded effectively, whereas in the building we’re in now, all our scientists had input and what we’ve ended up with is a facility that’s purposebuilt for us.” Helen says one of the challenges facing the architect was to accommodate as many of the specific needs of each scientist as possible – “scientists can be quite particular” – which they did in conjunction with specialist laboratory designer LabWorks Architecture. While some spaces were replaced ‘like-for-like’, they were carried over in a modern, thought-out way, becoming more pleasant and user-friendly, says Helen. The result has been a welcome change for scientists not only from those inspiring Port Nelson views, but also for the open-plan design that welcomes collaboration both in terms of formal meetings in rooms that accommodate them all – quite a novelty after Wakefield Quay – right through to informal but useful hallway discussions. At the official opening of the building, Nelson MP Nick Smith described it as the ‘ideas factory’, which Helen says reflects a facility that’s been designed specifically for their needs from the outset. 33

Wild Tomato November2017  
Wild Tomato November2017  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.c...