Blog: SECBE Awards 2021 finalist - Headquarters for CABI, Wallingford

11 May 2021

sponsored by Fladgate

Headquarters for CABI, Wallingford (submitted by Ridge and Partners LLP)

Building Project of the Year under £10m SECBE Award 2021 Winner & 4th place in the People's Choice Award 2021

This unique development provided CABI with an exemplar £10million new headquarters building set in the Chilterns (AONB). CABI is a not-for-profit international organisation that improves people’s lives by addressing problems in agriculture and the environment around the world, so it was vital that passive design principles were fully integrated with minimal impact on the surrounding environment. This high-profile, landmark development provides office and residential space with low impact/low-carbon design principles.

Teamwork was essential from the outset with CABI and multiple stakeholders including the local council, the planning committee, community, residents, developers, design team, contractors, and the entire supply chain. Ridge PM’s lead a successful design competition resulting in the appointment of Scott Brownrigg architects.  

The “Ridge Collaborative Partnering Cycle” was successfully employed leading a series of collaborative stakeholder workshops (with Stakeholder Management Plan) to develop the design/specification and cost plan, identifying strategic project objectives/desired outcomes/programme/budget/constraints and opportunities to deliver the best solution that addressed all local and environmental requirements. Obtaining planning for 91 new houses on part of the site included collaborating with residential developers to maximise the land value for funding the new HQ.   

CABI HQ was delivered on time, within budget and to quality exceeding expectation.  It was an imperative that the £10million cost of the headquarters was covered by money made from the land sale, despite the sale completing prior to finalisation of HQ design – this goal was achieved.

Health & Safety was top of the agenda and the contract requirement that no accidents occurred on site was delivered. An independent H&S team was appointed undertaking site visits and advising CABI/contractors.

It was essential to CABI’s goals to achieve the lowest environmental impacts for the 2-storey, 2,500m² HQ including:

  • Passive solar design principles.
  • Use of renewable/locally sourced materials.
  • Low carbon design strategies minimising energy use/reliance upon fossil fuels.
  • Energy-saving measures exceeded Building Regulations.
  • Increasing biodiversity introduced varied habitat with minimal environmental impact.
  • Exposed concrete slab provided thermal mass absorbing heat gains.
  • Maximisation of natural lighting/natural ventilation.
  • Robust/easy to maintain fabric/materials in construction/services/landscaping=longevity.

CABI HQ has delivered outstanding customer satisfaction and received praise from many stakeholders including local planning, council and community.

“On behalf of my EMT colleagues and CABI staff worldwide let me thank all our professional advisers, partners and suppliers for helping us achieve this exciting milestone in CABI’s history. We now have an office that we can be proud of fitting for an international organisation, visited by guests 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”. Former CABI CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls

Key facts:

  • Delivered a cost neutral project for CABI, a UN charitable organisation by developing the surrounding land to fund the new headquarters building.
  • Delivered this high-profile, landmark building to budget and on programme (despite COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Delivery of an exemplar outstanding local project with a unique ‘wave’ form adjacent to an AONB and achieving the quality aspirations defined by the client.

  • Client: CABI

  • Project Partners: Ridge and Partners LLP, Scott Brownrigg (Architect), Hoare Lea, Barnwood (Main Contractor), Macfarlane and Associates


About the Building Project of the Year under £10m Award 

Project of the Year delivers outstanding outcomes for all those involved in a construction project.  It showcases the benefits achieved through the application of many of the principles described in the other award categories. More info.

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2021 Summit & Awards Ceremony on Thurs 1st July 2021. Free attendance.

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