The architectural brief for the project was to encourage collaborative working and a ‘one team’ culture. Open balconies, wide staircases and bridges all contribute to a sense of visual and physical connection between different parts of the building. The atrium lets in huge amounts of natural daylight throughout the day, and creates a large meeting area and social break-out zones.
The interior is designed to reflect the UKHO’s work. Images of contours, strata and water currents reflect the theme of ‘Seabed to Surface’. Each of the three floors has its own distinct colour palette chosen to represent water and land.
Outside, the brick and wood structure plays a subtle supporting role to the large expanses of glass. This delivers significant solar gain, supplemented by under-floor heating. The building is naturally ventilated, with double-louvered energy-efficient windows, while a photovoltaic array on the roof helps to offset some of its electricity consumption.
Despite the weight of the frame, there is no piled foundation. The building sits on a reinforced concrete slab that is 350-400mm thick. The construction team dug up to 4 metres into the Somerset earth, in search of well-consolidated mudstone on which to cast the slab.