Innovation That Matters

From the outside, CABI’s new headquarters appear as two rolling hills | Photo source Scott Brownrigg

A low-carbon corporate headquarters uses location to its advantage

Architecture & Design

The CABI building's location and orientation were chosen to provide shade in the summer and to maximise sunshine during the winter

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Spotted: International non-profit Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) is dedicated to solving problems related to agriculture and the environment by using their scientific expertise. So, when CABI wanted a new headquarters, they knew that it was important to have a design that reflected their mission. The result is a model for sustainable buildings, based in Wallingford, UK.

Designed by Scott Brownrigg architects, the innovative design echoes CABI’s commitment to creating a more sustainable world by leaving less of a carbon footprint and minimising the environmental impact.  The building’s location and orientation were chosen to provide shade in the summer and to maximise sunshine during the winter. A photo-voltaic solar array will help provide energy, and roof-lights will reduce demand for electric lighting and help to lower CO2 emissions.

The building itself incorporates a variety of low-carbon features, including a perforated façade which provides natural ventilation, while a heat recovery system pre-warms the air during the winter months. The building’s most striking aspect, however, is its living roof, which will attract birds and insects and enhance the area’s biodiversity. Cypress trees, native hedgerows, perennial flowers and even a meadow have been planted to attract a broad range of insects, birds and other wildlife.

The site will include 18 affordable homes and developer CALA Homes is contributing one million UK pounds towards developing local infrastructure and facilities. Former CABI CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls, who guided the new project before retiring, has described the office project as a way for CABI to put its principles into practice, describing the building as, “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.”

At Springwise, we see many examples of how architects are working to redesign living and working spaces for a low-carbon future. In addition to improving sustainability, many of these designs also create spaces that incorporate nature and natural settings, which could improve our mental health. Some recent innovations in this space include floating work pods and a building designed around greenery and ventilation needs.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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