Woodland Camp Retreat
Epping Forest, London
The sensitive redevelopment of a recreational camp set in a beautiful 17-acre wooded site in Epping Forest and the London Metropolitan Green Belt. Our concept was carefully designed to reflect the traditional Essex agricultural style whilst helping the client achieve its goal of providing an inviting space for reflection and recreation within the peaceful, natural environment.
One of our existing clients, a charitable trust, asked us to reimagine an existing recreational campsite facility to include; the refurbishment of 4 existing cabins, the construction of 42 new timber-clad cabins, a new caretaker’s dwelling and a versatile new central pavilion building. These would also replace of a number of existing static caravans on the site with more permanent and better-designed units to enable the trust to provide short-term all-weather accommodation.
A variety of factors had to be carefully considered. The first was respecting the site’s location, nestled within London’s protected Metropolitan Green Belt and not far from the historic Hainault Forest or Chigwell Row’s Local Nature Reserve. Secondly, the client wished to respect the local community’s wishes regarding any possible impact on the nearby village and woodland environment. Finally, we were tasked with revising several existing structures and integrating them into an entirely fresh design concept.
The use of modern methods of construction was integral to our design concept, including those of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) for all the new cabins and Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) for the new Pavilion Building. We incorporated these contemporary design elements into our proposal whilst taking inspiration from traditional agricultural structures, utilising pitched roofs and random-width open boarded, vertical timber cladding.
Our aspiration to respect the sites natural environment and ecology was equally central to our design intent – hence all the new cabins are designed to be elevated from the ground, resting on helical micro piles (rather than conventional concrete slabs) with a view to minimising the environmental impact.
The proposed central pavilion reflects the proportions of a typical Essex barn whilst relating to the new cabin aesthetic. The H-shaped building features a double height, central open hall flanked by two-storey wings on either side. These each house a kitchen/dining area, office and WC facilities. The building’s form and layout was conceived to sit comfortably alongside the site’s natural assets and surrounding cabins. The cabins incorporate a number of different types, to cater for the diverse range of guests.
Area and Cost
The total building area of 2000m2 (which includes the construction of 42 new cabins, three updated cabins, a new central pavilion, plant room and a new caretaker’s dwelling plus all landscaping) has a projected cost of £3.9 million.
The Epping Forest District Council’s District Development Management Committee overwhelmingly approved the scheme.