The Wood is a fragment of relative wilderness smack in the middle of Cambridge. A century ago it was a gravel quarry which, by the close of the 19th century, had been sold for residential development. The result was a ring of professor's houses edged by a 4 metre deep by 2.5 acre pit set below the surrounding water table and therefore prone to extreme flooding. Over nearly half a century of being left alone, nature reclaimed the site.
The private client was the second owner since the derelict site was resold for residential development. The first owner imported a pair of Californian made Japanese-style pagoda houses elevated on stilts and linked by a Chinese-style bridge spanning over a pond. The site was initially landscaped with a variety of trees and shrubs planted amongst some of the more important self-sown trees.
The client was keen to further improve the site and began the project by employing a landscape architect, Kim Wilkie Associates, to masterplan the site with a completely new landscape and architecture strategy. This plan was to include a new elevated timber hall building and swimming pool enclosure, to be built over an existing swimming pool, and an adjacent parking structure. Each building was to be linked to the landscape and the two existing houses by a sinuous timber bridge. The Architecture Ensemble was asked to provide the client with a building design that would sit comfortably with the existing houses while creating an enduring 21st century form of English timber architecture.