Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research

WGA AU | Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec - The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research

The Project

The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research is a $500 million facility built to house the first proton therapy unit in the Southern Hemisphere. Located at the nation’s most significant health and biomedical precinct – Adelaide BioMed City, it plans to offer the most advanced cancer treatment and research.  

The 15-storey building includes three levels below ground and 11 levels of laboratory, research and development spaces across a 32,000m² area. As the sole structural engineer, WGA led a rigorous coordination process on the project that involved two architects-planners and two independent services engineers, each responsible for different areas of the facility. Site characteristics such as soil contamination and the sensitivity of adjacent laboratories to vibration necessitated a unique construction approach.

Technical Solutions 

The Proton Therapy Unit (PTU) features two main treatment ‘bunkers’ located three storeys below ground to protect against radiation exposure. Each bunker is more than 13m wide, 15m long and 13m high internally, with 2m thick concrete walls, and roof slabs with unique density and mix, design requirements. To achieve the special radiation shielding requirements, 500mm thick supplementary solid steel plates were embedded within some walls. The bunker elements were formed with precast as permanent formwork and act as transfer structures to support a 12-storey office and dry lab facility above. 

Structural Design Challenges

WGA overcame multiple structural design challenges including: 

  • A three-storey excavation through highly contaminated Adelaide clay soils,   
  • Undermining of existing buildings (SAMRI 1) and roads,  
  • Highly sensitive settlement and displacement requirements,  
  • Heat-of-hydration considerations for thick concrete pours and mix content requirements to achieve shielding performance,  
  • Complex transfer structures, 
  • Unique architectural feature stairs, 
  • A tower supported by perimeter raking columns 

 All above, in a facility that is designed to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating.

Client Focus

Housing a lifesaving technology like the PTU requires careful risk management. The project showcases WGA’s solution focused, technical expertise in mitigating highly specialised challenges. Whether it’s battling cancer or building world class medical precincts, we are here to create a safe environment for all.  

Image Credit: Woods Bagot

Key Personnel

The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research is included in the following sectors & services.
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