Garden Pavilion, Willow House, Cambridge
New Garden Pavilion within the grounds of Willow House
In 2003 Letts Wheeler Architects were commissioned by private clients to restore and extend Willow House, a Grade II* listed modernist house in Cambridge. It is a significant pre-war house in the International Style, built in 1932. Designed by George Checkley, it is one of the earliest houses in the UK to be influenced by the European Modern Movement.
A few years later we return to the house to add a new structure; a garden pavilion, to the grounds. The original house is set within an extensive garden. Much of this garden is remote from and visually disconnected from the living spaces of the original house.
As keen gardeners, the clients spend a large amount of time tending to these grounds. They wanted a shelter that was nearby, where they could retire to whilst working in the garden and also a space from which to enjoy the garden whilst relaxing or entertaining.
As architects for the previous restoration of the main house, we were fully aware of the sensitivity of the setting and the potential impact of any additional built structures within the grounds of the property.
Considerable discussion was undertaken with the conservation department as to the location of the new building and its proximity to the existing house. The location chosen was agreed to be appropriately positioned and remote enough from the house as to not impact on the setting and key views of the listed building.
The proposal uses the white, modernist language of the main house, with simple rectilinear forms and glazing. The interplay of different building heights creates a loose composition in planes of the white walls and glazing.
The full-height metal framed, bi-folding glazed screen enable the windows to be drawn back in warmer weather, allowing the space to be fully open to the garden.
The glazing is set back behind a shallow loggia, which provides solar shading in the summer, whilst allowing low winter sun to penetrate into the room for passive heating. In addition the loggia creates a route to access the room from the garage driveway.
On the north side a glass roof-light allows light into the back of the room. In keeping with the modernist style this is formed as a box using structural glazing. Opening vents along the north side allow this raised glass box to create a stack ventilation of the room in summer. The room is finished internally in the same white render as the external elevations. Flooring internally and externally is finished in grey granite slabs.