The Subterreanean Barn

Honor Kennedy Honor Kennedy
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As an iconic and truly spectacular piece of south central England, The Cotswolds are picturesque, iconic, and embody the beauty of natural British wilderness. Stretching south-west from Stratford-upon-Avon to just south of Bath, are a range of rolling pastures and hills, roughly 25 miles across and 90 miles long. Featuring a bedrock of Jurassic limestone, much of the architecture within the area has been created using this unique mineral. A predominantly rural landscape, the stone villages are charming, characterful, and quaint. 

Recognised as an area of outstanding beauty (AONB), this colourful and scenic stretch of land is where we travel today to see a wonderfully original and intriguing property. Facing a moratorium on housing within the area, as well as its AONB status, Seymour-Smith Architects successfully obtained planning permission during extremely unlikely circumstances and time. Thanks to the thoughtful renovation and refurbishment, Underhill House is a 300-year-old barn that thanks to has been given a renewed lease on life. Furthermore, featured on Grand Designs, this dwelling was the first certified Passivhaus in England. So come and take a trip with homify, check out this brilliantly unique, energy saving dwelling below, and get some inspiration for your countryside home.

Renovated and updated barn

Underhill House is a beautifully renovated home that has also been designed as a Passivhaus. This German term refers to a voluntary standard in home building and refurbishment that focuses on energy efficiency. The Passive House Institute (PHI) is an independent research institute that imposes rigorous standards for environmentally friendly and energy saving structures. The resulting ultra-low energy house reduces the ecological footprint of the dwelling, and often requires very little electricity or energy for heating and cooling. This property has followed the German standard, which has resulted in a 90% reduction in carbon emissions compared to an average home. 

Spacious entertaining area

As we take a closer look at the home, we move into the entertaining space. This area displays a fabulous blend of the old and the new, while creating a contemporary and ultra-functional area. The old barn is visible against the new white rendered construction, evoking a sleek juxtaposition of textures and styles. This area is sunken within the landscape, ensuring a connectedness with the environment. Sliding doors with floor to ceiling glazing open up the interior domestic spaces to the outdoors, and exude serviceability along with modern practicality. Finally, what looks like awnings to the left-hand-side wall are actually mounted solar panels providing energy to the eco-friendly home. 

Modern library

Upon entering the home the interior is bright and full of character. In this room we glimpse the library-cum-office, which functions are a sleek place to sit back, relax, or get a little work finished. The custom joinery is incorporated into the wall space, and injects a colourful burst of brightness. A Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman take centre stage and inject a sense of mid-century modern class within the space. The colour scheme is a nice blend of bright hues with neutral shades, and ensures the domestic area is welcoming and enjoyable. 

Large dining area

The new dining and kitchen area is unrecognisable against the structure's 300-year-old history. In an open cavernous space the fining is formal enough to host a party, yet casual enough for everyday dining. The exposed ceiling and ducting add an industrial element, with suspended panels providing a ceiling. The flooring is polished concrete, and looks beautiful against the other sleek cream tones within the space. Finally the citrus burst is employed in the form of statement light fittings that offer a welcoming conviviality. 

Serene sleeping space

The final room we are taking a look at today is the striking bedroom. These sleeping quarters make the most of their picturesque location, and look fabulous with huge floor to ceiling sliding glass doors. The ceiling is again suspended, adding warmth to the room, with a signature Arne Jacobsen Egg chair imparting vivacious colour and life. 

If you like barn conversions, why not check out another? Here is an additional Ideabook: A beautiful barn conversion.

What did you think of this stylishly updated barn? We’d love to hear from you, below!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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