The site, an eighteenth century aisled framed barn, had been converted to a dwelling fifty years ago, and was in desperate need of modernisation. The architects wanted to prrovide a contemporary design without compromising the rural setting and oak structure of the original barn. More specifically, it was to be a working family home that could evolve.
The property is situated within three acres of land with direct access to the village green beyond and we were keen to exploit the connection with the gardens. At the centre of the house is an eight-metre high galleried hallway. This is the heart of the building and allows one to experience the strength and scale of the oak framed structure. However, the upper gallery led to a dead end and as a consequence was under utilised. Therefore, key to the design was the re-organisation of the first floor plan so that all the bedrooms were accessed via the gallery.
Traditional English timber framed buildings are richly pedagogic, visibly demonstrating through their complex joints and visible carpenters marks numbering the faces of the frames, their construction. Timber framed agricultural buildings are the industrial architecture of our past and the spaces have a similar scale.
The design was a process of subtraction rather than addition. Open plan spaces and ceilings reach to the apex of the roof and the proportions of the original barn are celebrated. The new interventions were treated as stand alone units in themselves and detailed accordingly.
The new insertions slot between and around the massive oak framed structure. Surfaces fold, stone counter tops becoming splashbacks. With the exception of a couple of areas of vivd colour, materials and finishes are natural and a counterpoint to the scale and hewn surface of the oak. The garden elevation is characterised by opening glazed strips along both the ground floor living areas, and first floor master bedroom suite. On summer evenings the family can slide open the full height windows and enjoy the spectacle of the original structure above them, views of the garden below and village green beyond.