New low energy headquarters delivers biodiversity for CABI in Wallingford

New low energy headquarters delivers biodiversity for CABI in Wallingford

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The Scott Brownrigg-designed headquarters for the international not-for-profit organisation, CABI, has successfully completed. CABI apply scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. Scott Brownrigg worked alongside Project Managers and Lead Consultant Ridge and Partners LLP (Ridge) to complete a low energy design that offers a two-storey office space, successfully integrating an experimental bio-diverse landscape with a new collaborative flexible working environment.

This is a highly anticipated new home for CABI, who, for the past 33 years have been located in what was Carmel College, a school built in the 1960s in Oxfordshire. The old building required a high level of maintenance, in comparison to CABI’s new, energy-efficient, purpose-built HQ in Wallingford.

“On behalf of my EMT colleagues and all CABI staff worldwide let me thank all of our professional advisers, partners and suppliers for their work in helping us achieve this exciting milestone in CABI’s history.

We now have an office that we can truly be proud of which is fitting for an international organisation, visited by guests and staff from around the world. It is truly in keeping with our mission and values to protect the environment and biodiversity whilst also being an impressive local landmark that will put us on the map more visibly in the community.”

Dr Trevor Nicholls, Former CABI CEO

At the heart of this project is CABI’s commitment to encouraging biodiversity and protecting the environment. The design is highly energy efficient with detailed strategies for materials, orientation and structures. The design includes a careful selection of materials for the building fabric, which will reduce the energy consumption, to embrace the aim of low carbon use in operation.

Designing with passive sustainability as a priority, the building is positioned to minimise solar gains by orientating it East-West, and will provide shade in the summer and allow sunlight in the winter.

Completing in 2020 means that the HQ foreshadowed the shift in priorities for office space users who, due to Covid-19, have placed increased importance on clean air. Natural ventilation was a key design factor, and was achieved by a perforated façade, which permits cool air into the building throughout day and night. It then rises up and is collected at the top. Heat recovery ventilation is used in the winter to pre-warm fresh air, which is then pumped into the floors.

“A traffic light system alerts users when the building gets too hot or doesn’t have enough fresh air. It will prompt occupants to open their windows and increase the levels of fresh air in the building. It is designed to rely on communication and cooperation between the building and its users, rather than being heavily M&E driven, providing a natural, healthy and safe environment ”

Ed Hayden, Director

Situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the building responds to its surroundings with a living roof, which will attract insects and birds and enhance biodiversity. Inside, it hosts up to 180 members of staff – a long way from its origins as a small research committee established in 1910. Staff and visitors are provided with a range of amenities including a café restaurant, meeting rooms and conference room / auditorium.

“CABI, together with the Ridge team, has navigated this important project through many challenges and achievements over the past ten years. We have overcome planning hurdles, been responsible for the appointment of the full consultant team and, most recently, we have managed successful completion of the build through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ridge team, with Scott Brownrigg, have remained completely dedicated to supporting CABI all the way through the life cycle of the project, from concept to completion, and we are all very proud of the end result.”

Jolyon Price, Equity Partner at Ridge

“We are delighted to see CABI move into their ‘state of the art’ new office facility and start taking advantage of the many great features of the building. The vision and leadership from CABI, supported by the rest of the team, has demonstrated how new buildings can meet the modern demands of work space whilst still supporting a sustainable environment. Despite many challenges, not least the current pandemic, we are very pleased to be part of the team to have delivered such a first-class building.”

Matt Carr, Contracts Manager at Barnwood Construction

Recently appointed CEO at CABI, Dr Daniel Elger was among the first members of staff to move into the new headquarters in October, which also serves as the hub for CABI's publishing business. 

“I am delighted to be leading a team of professionals at our UK headquarters who are working with colleagues in our global network of centres to help millions of smallholder farmers around the world grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases.”

Dr Daniel Elger, CABI CEO
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