We were invited to take part in a design competition to develop proposals for a sustainable headquarters for Somerset Wildlife Trust. It included an administrative hub with additional social, community and outreach facilities.

Located in the north-east corner of Somerset College’s Taunton campus, the site mediates between lush flood meadows to the south and college buildings to the north. Our approach was based on PassivHaus principles to design a low energy building offering the opportunity to achieve long term carbon savings whilst minimising the need for ‘bolt-on’ micro generation technologies. In addition, the building was designed to accept future upgrades that would enable ‘Carbon Neutral’ or ‘Zero Carbon’ status to be achieved.

Architecturally the building sits low in the landscape against the flat flood meadows with simple timber clad elevations. Visitors are swept into the building via an intermediate courtyard garden with axial links through to the landscape beyond. The office spaces are arranged around a further ‘secret’ internal courtyard from which rises a gentle grass bank up on to roof level. Here, a generous, flexible social space (dubbed the ‘Hide’) sits beneath deep roof overhangs framing sweeping views out over the landscape and roof garden.