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WINNER FOR BEST CONVERSION

NHBDA / JUDGES REPORT

PINIONS BARN Architect: Simon Conder Associates Housebuilder: Herbert Austin Standards in this category are at a six-year high, announced the judges, making the task of picking a winner all the harder.

Pinions Barn ultimately triumphed with its seductively simple composition of galvanised-steel frames, expanses of glass panelling and 'exuberant' internal spaces, set within original sleek stone and brick skins.

The brief was aimed at a London family looking for a rural retreat with sufficient space for entertaining friends and relatives.

The canvas was a collection of three derelict farm buildings - a large stone barn, a smaller single-storey barn and an open-sided, steel-framed shed - forming a sheltered triangular courtyard in an otherwise exposed location.

The coup de grâce, agreed the judges, rests in the internal spatial parameters, such as the dramatic double-height spaces in the living, dining and kitchen areas. One of the main design objectives was to retain the barns' original open-plan interiors by imposing minimum new internal divisions. The result is a collection of almost reverential vaulted spaces which, though vast, retain their essential rustic charm.

Detailing is consistently singular in vision, said the judges, with an overriding sense of practicality that does not compromise the understated sophistication of the project.

Essentials such as service runs, insulation and storage are neatly concealed, while switches carefully positioned behind doors, the consistent use of beautiful limestone ags at ground level and American white oak boards above demonstrate close attention to minutiae.

A paramount feature is the largest barn's elegant solid-oak helical stairway, enclosed by a thin glass cylinder and lit by floor-level spots - a joyful are of innovation which corresponds to its restrained surroundings. The judges were also enamoured with a 5.5m-long narrow horizontal kitchen window that provides glimpses of trains on the main North East line only a - eld away.

Rural gems are too often butchered in the conversion process. Pinions Barn, the judges said, represents a subtle yet thought-provoking lesson in restoration craftsmanship.

STANDON MILL Architect: White & Mileson Housebuilder: City & Country Residential

ST MARY'S CHURCH Architect: Provan & Makin Housebuilder: Vibe Developments

SILK WAREHOUSE Architect: Latham Associates Housebuilder: Urban Splash

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