To convert a large listed timber-framed barn into a family home and artist studios while retaining as much of the original fabric as possible.
Planning and social constraints
Feering Bury Farm Barn is a Grade II listed timber-framed barn. The central structure dates to around 1560 with aisles added in the 18th century. Although it would have originally been thatched, the original roof materials were lost many years ago and had been replaced by corrugated material. Local authority conservation officers were keen to retain the barn’s semi-industrial appearance and insisted that the roof should not contain any visible rooflights.
Design response, materials and methods of construction
The main technical feature of Feering Bury Farm Barn is its unique roof which uses an ingenious method to bring daylight into the vast (525m2) space beneath while complying with conservation officers’ prescription against visible rooflights (a condition which had defeated a number of previous architects). The existing corrugated roofing was removed, and the timber structure used to support a new roof containing a series of large polycarbonate rooflights, which in turn were covered in an expanded steel mesh. The openings within the mesh are orientated towards the sky, allowing diffuse light to flood the building. From ground level, however, these opening are invisible and give the appearance of a solid, uninterrupted roof surface. It is believed that this is the first time that this roofing technique has been successfully applied.
Elsewhere, the existing masonry walls of the adjoining artist studios (formerly farm outbuildings) have been retained. The barn’s timber cladding was no longer usable, and has been replaced with black weatherboard to match the original materials. Window positions in the end gable were carefully considered to include existing opening positions, and a large glass door replaces the original doors onto the farmyard.
Inside, almost all the original timber-framed structure has been retained, with new timber used sparingly to replace timbers that were no longer usable. Reclaimed timber is used extensively as panelling and even for items of furniture. Reclaimed metal has also been used imaginatively, such as a hay manger set into a bedroom wall or fragments of metal used for structural bracing. To create private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms, two large 20th century internal concrete silos were brought into re-use: one contains an oak spiral staircase leading to a mezzanine bedroom, while the other houses bathrooms serving the ground floor and mezzanine bedrooms. Beyond the kitchen lies a large full-height library leading onto a set of large artist studios for the owners.
The owner, Ben Coode-Adams, formed an extremely close relationship with Hudson Architects and worked on the project as design collaborator and project manager. This dynamic worked very well, and Ben was able to bring his flair as an artist to the interior design of the project. Much of the interior design - particularly the use of reclaimed materials—is Ben’s own work.
The overall budget for the scheme was £850,000.
Much of the original structure at Feering Bury Farm Barn has been retained, meaning that construction was highly sustainable as new materials were kept to a minimum. Almost all of the original timbers, for instance, have been re-used. Inside the barn, two concrete grain silos were put to imaginative re-use to house bathrooms and a staircase, and salvaged or reclaimed materials have been used wherever possible for practical and decorative purposes.
Wood fibre insulation is used throughout, and the development meets Building Regulations for thermal efficiency. Carbon emissions have been further reduced with a woodchip boiler using local fuel sources, saving an estimated 54 tonnes of carbon per annum. The woodchip boiler is also used to heat a neighbouring property—enhancing the environmental sustainability of two houses. There are plans to install PV panels to provide an additional renewable energy source.
Future maintenance has been minimised as much as possible through the use of robust and easily-replacable materials.
Design work began in January 2007 and continued to April 2009. Construction ran from April 2009 to April 2011. The building was completed in April 2011.