Australian Federal Police Forensics Laboratory, Majura

Australian Federal Police (AFP) sought the expertise of Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group to provide a multidisciplinary services design for its new Forensic Data Facility (FDC) in Majura, Australia.


  • Size: 7,500 square meters
  • Construction Cost: Confidential
  • Client/Owner: Australian Federal Police
  • Architect: Hassell Architects
  • Contractor: Cockram Builders
  • Completion Date: 2016


Our services included acoustical design, audiovisual design, sustainable design, fire engineering, fire protection, information and communications technology consultancy, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering. The FDC enhances the AFP’s investigative capabilities and supports national security and law enforcement agencies both nationally and overseas.

The state-of-the-art building encompasses the very latest advances in science and technology, which ensure the AFP maintains its status as a world leader in forensic operations, forensic science policy, research, training, and capability development. The new facility enables a collaborative forensic model where all science disciplines come together, ensuring a more responsive and high-quality outcome.

The building is required to handle a large volume of traffic, while still adhering to the strict security measures imposed by a federal law enforcement facility. Access had to be restricted to allowable areas, while still permitting free movement where required, and in the event of an emergency. The security requirements proved challenging to the fire safety team; however, with a strong collaborative focus, they were able to implement egress strategies and fire containment solutions that satisfied the AFP’s security requirements.

The design of the facility incorporates varying forensic facilities including both ISO 6 and ISO 7 laboratories, ballistic and chemical analysis laboratories, hazardous (explosive) materials laboratories, a laminar flow ballistic range, acoustically isolated audio-visual laboratories, and significant vaulted storage areas for the archiving of both historical fire arms and ammunition.

To support these forensic facilities, the building also includes hazardous materials storage containment areas, central and dedicated reverse osmosis water systems, laboratory gas distribution systems, oil-free compressed air systems, heavy metal water reclaim systems, commercial trade waste, and black water treatment facilities.

The Audio Visual (AV) laboratories are located near an open plan office environment. A key feature here was to ensure that the space was acoustically and vibrationally isolated from the office space.

The AV labs are also insulated against radio transmissions from the neighboring airport, and similarly, transmissions from the forensic complex could not be allowed to interfere with that of the airport traffic control.

Ballistics are a key component of forensic examination and form an integral part of this new facility. The ballistics range is required to handle a large variety of weaponry, while trapping the gun shot residue and exhaust gasses from escaping into the rest of the complex, potentially compromising evidence.

To achieve this, the behavior of airflow and gunshot exhaust was modeled using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with the optimal airflow supply level determined to ensure that the particles discharged from firing the weapon were pushed away from the entrance. It was important to achieve this while simultaneously keeping the velocity low enough to avoid particles blowing back from turbulence. External wind modeling was also undertaken to ensure that the air extracted from the ballistics area was not recirculated into the laboratory air intakes. Tetra Tech had to consider wind patterns, exit velocity, and a host of other factors to ensure this did not happen.

Tetra Tech’s design incorporates numerous energy reclaim systems and energy monitoring systems to ensure minimal life cost and environmental impact of the facility.