Conversion of an extremely large 16th-century barn on a working Essex farm, which is Grade-II listed and had lain unused for a number of years
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The barn is owned by artists Ben Coode-Adams and Freddie Robins, who wanted to use most of it as a family home, with the remainder and a neighbouring outbuilding used for studio space and workshops.
Although the barn would have originally been thatched, the roof materials were lost many years ago and have been replaced by corrugated sheeting. From the outset, planning and conservation officers indicated that the semi-industrial appearance of the building should be maintained, and previous architects had been unable to resolve the particular insistence that the large roof should not contain any visible fenestration.
In order to meet these requirements, the roof was constructed with large bay rooflights, made from multi-wall corrugated polycarbonate with a perforated steel mesh laid over the top. The perforations face upwards providing the interior with generous amounts of diffuse light, while externally the rooflights are concealed from view at ground level. The mesh is T-washed and provides an uneven appearance, which echoes both the industrial nature of the building and the texture of thatch. External walls are clad in black-stained horizontal lapped timber to match the original cladding.
Conservation officers asked that the interior of the barn should not be subdivided, setting us a challenge to create a family home within such a large space. Nevertheless, the internal industrial nature of the building has been maintained in a contemporary adaptation, with many playful yet highly practical features created by the client. (It was a huge pleasure to work alongside Ben, who self-built and project managed the conversion, delighting in the extensive use of found and reclaimed materials throughout the project.)
Existing concrete silos were moved from one part of the barn to another, to be re-used to create bathrooms and house an oak spiral staircase, providing a strong contrast with the exposed timber frame. Elsewhere, reclaimed timber has been used for cladding and even for furniture, while tangles of reclaimed metal are used for bracing.
The existing timber frame was clad with 18mm fair-faced ply, and a polished concrete reinforced ground-bearing slab with underfloor heating pipes was poured. The conversion includes a number of sustainable features, including a woodchip boiler, re-use of on-site materials and the provision of ample daylight.
Anthony Hudson, director, Hudson Architects