KJ Tait

National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), Bingham Site Redevelopment

National Institute of Agricultural Botany & SDC Builders
Science & Technology
Project team
Paul Evans Architects/Saunders Boston

KJ Tait carried out the full design of the mechanical and electrical services installations for the £25M redevelopment of NIAB’s Bingham site in Cambridge.  NIAB was founded in 1919 and works to promote agriculture, horticulture and arboriculture anywhere in the world by charitable means.


The project involved the redevelopment and consolidation of existing facilities and the construction of new buildings to create a new campus, with offices, state-of-the-art laboratories, growth room facilities and meeting rooms to provide a new headquarters for NIAB.  The existing buildings were retained and refurbished to provide office and laboratory accommodation. A new double height, glazed entrance building was constructed to link the three existing buildings and provide a new arrival point. A new Crop Sciences Building, comprising basement car park and three floors of laboratory space, was also constructed and is occupied by NIAB and the University of Cambridge Department of Plant Sciences to enable collaboration between the two Institutes.


Facilities in the development include growth rooms, including for deliberately infected specimens, growth cabinet rooms, plant transformation facility, tissue culture, general laboratory and equipment space, RA lab, dark room, microscope rooms, cold rooms, write up space, office and meeting rooms.

The new laboratories are mechanically ventilated using evaporative water cooling within the air handling units (or adiabatic cooling). This provides cooling for the majority of the year and offers significant energy savings over conventional cooling methods. Office spaces are naturally ventilated with a simple system incorporating manually operated windows and automatic vents to optimise ventilation rates and allow night cooling.


The development’s renewable energy requirements are met through a photovoltaic system mounted on the roof of an existing building. A critical element of the Crop Sciences Building was the high specification plant growth rooms, requiring a bespoke design to suit the cutting-edge research.