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Bureau de Change reinterprets Cotswolds farmstead as modern home


The architect has reinterpreted the rural vernacular to create a 500m² home using interlocking barn forms and a palette of local materials

The front barn has been cut in two, creating an internal patio hidden behind the elevation. The farther barn has been extruded upwards to form a double-height volume, creating a viewpoint towards where the two interlock, overlapping in space.

The structure of the front barn allows for its far end to be used as a studio for the artist owner of the property, while a section of the second barn has been broken off to form an annexe adjacent to the main house. The living spaces enclose a patio, which sits as the focal point of the home. Clad in glazed ceramic tiles, it introduces both light and nature to the home.

Longhouse Gilbert Mccarragher


Close attention has been paid to historic local building practices and approaches to material. These have played an important role in reinterpreting the site. The construction also supports the site’s new purpose as a home – with an insulated concrete framework system creating a thermal envelope, limited openings on the south-facing wall, triple-glazed window units and a heat-recovery ventilation system to maintain air quality all year round – inspired by Passivhaus principles.

Longhouse Gilbert Mccarragher

The front barn was built in dry stone wall by local craftsmen while the taller barn uses a lighter, natural larch. Around the windows, the wood has been charred to a deep black, then brushed away, lightening it and creating a gradient from the walls to the deep recess, emphasising the gentle rhythmic indentations of each window in the face of the house.

This treatment of material deconstructs the expansive façade, adding texture and interest, a feature that is echoed in the indentation of walling at the front entrance. The slow progress of ageing and weathering that Bureau de Change has envisioned for each choice of material will further embed the new home into its rural setting.

Longhouse Gilbert Mccarragher

Architect’s view

The front barn has been built in dry stone wall by a local craftsman, chosen not only for its local relevance but for its inherent qualities of mass and muscularity. This façade is monolithic, with fewer openings to produce a heavier, solid volume at the front. As a counterpoint, the taller barn at the back is clad in a lighter-weight natural larch, which has been charred to a deep leathery black at each window recess. This charring has then been brushed away to gently blend it into the natural larch, creating an ombre effect which emphasises the rhythmic push and pull of the window indentations.

Katerina Dionysopoulou, co-founder, Bureau de Change

We took the elongated forms of two 30m-long, timber chicken sheds as the starting point for the new design. The house then became a play of traditional barn volumes which have been pushed and pulled to suit the needs of the client.

Billy Mavropoulos, co-founder, Bureau de Change

Ground Floor Plan

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site August 2017
Completion February 2019
Gross internal floor area 500m²
Form of contract Traditional
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Bureau de Change Architects
Client Private
Structural engineer Mallone Engineers
Main contractor Passive Building Structures


Readers' comments (2)

  • 'Reinterpreted the rural vernacular' - good-looking stonework, but larch wrapped over the roof? 'The slow progress of ageing and weathering envisioned' includes that of the roof?

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  • Industry Professional

    Sorry - just looks to me to be a building that's suffered a fire and they couldn't be bothered to replace the burst wood!

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