The Architecture Ensemble

Shorne Wood Country Park

Shorne Wood Country Park, near Gravesend, is a Kent County Council owned and managed woodland park with outstanding views over the Thames estuary. A former gravel quarry, the site dates back to pre-history with traces of archaeological evidence scattered around the site and its surroundings. . The entire site has been designated as a Special Site of Scientific Interest due to the unique biodiversity found in its woods and the left-over quarry ponds.

As well as being one of Kent's flagship woodland centres used by schools and universities as an ecology study resource, Shorne Wood also receives large amounts of visitors. The county council were keen to accomodate the increasing number of visitors with a suitable visitors center.

The visitor's centre was designed to be an extremely energy efficient building using timber sourced directly from the site. Clay and ETFE foil pillows would form a light-filled and thermally efficient tent stretching over its timber structure. Inside air was to be pre-heated and cooled through a series of tubes running under an adjacent pond. Supplementary heat was to be provided through passive and active solar systems and through the use of a large ceramic pizza oven fuelled with waste wood found through the management of the woodland. The majority of edible ingredients were to be grown on site. The shell of the building was designed to allow visitors to walk over the building's roof spine to gain a view of the River Thames at a height that was lost when the hill was quarried.