By now it’s probably clear to anyone who looks at Architecture Wednesday that I am obsessed with house created from things that weren’t originally houses … warehouse … garages … water treatment plants … barns.
Barns; gosh I love a good barn that becomes a house. But this isn’t just a barn; it’s a cluster of historic agricultural buildings that were turned into a getaway for a fashion designer & a digital designer who collect reclaimed architectural artifacts; and what better place to showcase those treasures than in a reclaimed barn and its outbuildings. The result is part curation, part restoration of an 18th Century threshing barn, dairy and stables.
The owners decided that, rather than demand specific spaces, they would focus on materials and atmosphere, and on creative re-use of the existing volumes. In order to maintain the barn’s “brooding” presence — and to provide security and a sense of protection from rolling Channel mists — the barn is usually kept in a closed state. However, industrial-scale mechanisms create openings toward views into the countryside while massive, insulated shutters recall the original barn doors, and protect a vast rotating window operated by an adapted chain-lift.
On the east side, an aircraft hangar door allows the exterior to float upwards, creating a canopy over the dining terrace; a single rooflight, running the length of the main roof’s ridge provides steady ambient light to the living spaces.
The original green oak framing was in a state of near collapse at the start of the two-year restoration project so it was carefully disassembled and removed from site for repair.
While the smaller stable range remains timber-framed, the main barn frame and cladding is largely cosmetic – the oak is supported by a steel exoskeleton. This structural approach allowed for rapid completion of the building and the incorporation of the huge opening mechanisms. One of the main challenges was creation of a mezzanine — for sleeping and bathing — into the main volume. A tapering brick chimney supports the corner of the mezzanine, and incorporates a cantilevered, waxed steel staircase and an open fireplace.
The prevalence of recycled and found materials contradict the high-tech solutions to the building’s operational requirements; a ground-source heat pump harvests warmth from the paddock soil to provide heating & hot water; reclaimed light fittings were adapted to use long-life, low-energy LED lamps; integration of heat, light and security systems allow the owner to manage the building and work remotely.
It’s a high-tech dairy and stable and barn. It’s everything ….