UK Hydrographics Office, Taunton

  • Client


  • Contractor

  • Value


  • Completion Date

    January 2019

Procurement Type: Two stage

Form of Contract: JCT Design and Build

Contract Period: 113 weeks

Size: 10,671m2

Winner of the BCO National Awards, RIBA Southwest Awards, BCO South of England & South Wales Awards, Insider South West Property Awards and Project of the Year 2020 for Michelmores Property Awards. BAM designed and constructed the high secure new headquarters for the United Kingdom Hydrographics Office (UKHO) at its existing site, replacing a World War II building. The new facility is a bespoke office designed to meet the needs of one of the world’s leading geospatial information companies. It has two open plan wings constructed in a reinforced concrete frame, linked by structural steel bridges. The project has a BREEAM Excellent rating with its M&E systems being designed for ease of use, low maintenance, comfort, and energy efficiency. The design builds on experience from previous low energy offices, removing unnecessary complexity and improving resilience. Low maintenance materials used were chosen to create an exceptionally durable building and the design has taken a very robust approach to life cycle performance. Wherever possible we have exceeded the minimum standard to ensure that the building has flexibility, longevity and is adaptable to change.

The Challenge

Bringing everything together under one roof was a central aim in creating a new headquarters for UKHO – so why not make it the defining feature?

The atrium roof proved to be a significant challenge for both the designers and construction project team and required a genuine collaborative approach. The challenge was to create an impressive 800m2 atrium roof to allow natural unobstructed daylight to flood in throughout the day providing essential daylight and ventilation to the centre of the building.

The Solution

The final atrium roof design comprised bespoke 28 tonne precast concrete ‘V’ shaped beams, over 200 modular roof lights and sinuous larch clad baffles which are an integral part of the passive environmental design by eliminating glare and providing acoustic absorption to control reverberation. The 203 roof lights in the glazed atrium roof are opened by the Building Management System (BMS) and allow natural ventilation to the 700 desks arranged on the open plan floor plates.

This required a BIM Level 2 approach throughout the entire supply chain. The benefits to the project included pre-construction coordination, site details resolved early on ensuring robust details, full integration of supply chain design and it ensured exposed services were modelled and installed correctly both technically and aesthetically.

The decision to use precast elements for the roof played an important part in meeting the programme

The Results

To deliver UKHO’s vison an open and collaborative approach was in place from the outset. This enabled robust employer requirements to be agreed and the design was substantially completed prior to start of the main works.

The final results are truly stunning, the quality, building performance and award winning design is testament. UKHOH has won 10 major awards including two awards at the British Council of Offices National Awards 2020– ‘Best of the Best’ and ‘Corporate Workplace’ and Michelmores Property Awards 2019 – Building of the Year [£20m to £50m]




SME Spend


Added Value


Client Satisfaction

Client Testimonials

It has surpassed my wildest expectations, the dream has become the reality for both me and the whole of UKHO. This has only been achieved through a completely open and honest approach to problem solving throughout the project and this collaborative attitude has been the key to the project’s success.
We are delighted with the outcome of this project and the high standards our new headquarters. AHR demonstrated a clear vision for the design, always backed up by an in-depth understanding of how the building will look and perform, as well as of UKHO as an organisation and our needs. AHR demonstrated a clear commitment to the project and produced a design that has delivered an inspirational building.
Our workplace is now more responsive and connected than ever before. The design will support a smarter way of working and has created a healthy and productive environment that will attract, nurture and retain our employees.
The architectural design has also completely captured the heart of our brand, following the theme of ‘Seabed to Surface’. It both showcases the world-class organisation that the UKHO is and brings to life our vision for our future.

Contractor Performance | Commitments


Low maintenance materials used were chosen to create an exceptionally durable building and the design has taken a very robust approach to life cycle performance. Wherever possible we have exceeded the minimum standard to ensure that the building has flexibility, longevity and is adaptable to change. The team has focused on reducing operational energy costs and carbon emissions. High levels of natural daylight reduce the reliance on artificial lighting and an efficient building envelope reduces the heating costs. The natural ventilation strategy has designed out the need for cooling to over 90% of the building. Artificial lighting is automatic throughout and floor plates are lit to just 200lux which provides a calm background light level suitable for most tasks. Every desk is then provided with an individual task light giving user control to increase their light level up to 500lux if required. This strategy provides the dual benefit of user control and energy reduction.

Our structural engineering design is based on a concrete flat slab structure. It was chosen because it worked well for the grid shape of the building, it is very effective for thermal mass, and it is good for services distribution. This structural design solution ensures that by day, heat generated by people and IT etc. is absorbed in the slab, and at night the vents open so the heat can leave the building. The resulting exposed soffits have been designed to become part of the aesthetics of the structure.

The adoption of natural ventilation and the maximisation of daylight were central to the design ethos. The resulting services strategy delivers a space that supports employee wellbeing and a highly sustainable, low energy operation that has significantly reduced costs for installing, operating and maintaining fans, pumps and chillers. A Building Management System controls the opening and closing of the top half of every window in the building, whilst occupiers can control the opening of the bottom half of each window to provide instant access to fresh air, giving them a sense of control over their immediate environment.

– BREEAM Excellent
-Wide use of low carbon /energy saving features e.g. PVs, lighting control and natural ventilation
-GSL approach and BMS fine tuning has kept energy usage to a minimum; saving 30% against historical usage. Helped enormously by the ventilation strategy.
-Cut and fill analysis maximised reuse of excavated materials and demolition waste
-Targeting ‘DEC B’ rating within 3 years of operation
-Optimum orientation for passive solar design – escape stairs and tea points located on the east and west buffer offices from low sun angles
-Mixture of cross ventilation and stack ventilation through the atrium roof
-Timber baffles, hanging from the atrium roof provide acoustic absorption and eliminate glare by diffusing low angle sun
-Exposed in-situ concrete structure provides thermal mass
-Generous 3.5m ceiling heights coupled with narrow floorplates ensure impressive levels of natural daylight
-Brise soleil to the south façade to reduce heat gain
-Automatic artificial lighting throughout, with floor plates lit to 200lux supplemented by individual task lights on every desk


£3.2m Social Value delivered

410 apprenticeship weeks & 39 work placements

Charities supported: CLIC & Lighthouse

Selection of contractors based in local area

Use of locally sourced materials and suppliers

Employment of local site management trainee

Sponsorship of college/university students


100% payment within 30 days terms


Government Soft Landings removes ambiguity and assumptions that lead to confusion. This helped to address hand-over and occupancy issues at an early stage, proving a positive experience the client and staff from day 1. BAM attended quarterly aftercare review meetings for two years, and provided repeat training to FM providers and users, assisting the client in fine-tuning the building’s systems as well as contributing to post-occupancy evaluation.



CCS Awards: Performance Beyond Compliance

Robotic window installation

SCF Framework Manager

Kingsley Clarke


Phone: 07805760622

Contractor Framework Manager

Darren Birch


Phone: 07920 134843