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Work starts on Richard John Andrews’ pet hydrotherapy rehab barn

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Construction has started on a new animal rehabilitation centre designed by emerging design studio Richard John Andrews

The 22m-long building, earmarked for a rural site in the development zone outside Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, will be clad in black-stained timber and will house ‘water treadmills for the treatment of domestic animals’.

Dubbed the Crooked Barn, the 110m² scheme off Horseley Fen features an asymmetric galvanised-steel truss system. Solar thermal and PV panels will be attached to its south elevation to power the centre’s hydrotherapy system.

The scheme, which was approved on appeal, is expected to complete in September 2019.

6. a crooked barn typical section by richard john andrews

6. a crooked barn typical section by richard john andrews

The designer’s view

This site is perfect for the function of the practice which will inhabit it once constructed. Due to the clear planning restrictions there needed to be close attention paid to the concept, form and performance of the building for it to fulfil the criteria of a clearly exceptional piece of architecture which references the history of the area, surroundings and immediate settings.

A Crooked Barn will house a veterinary rehabilitation centre which specialises in hydrotherapy and uses water treadmills for the treatment of domestic animals. It stands at 5.5m in height, 5m in width and 22m in length, creating an elegant and uniform profile along the south boundary of the site. It is a single-storey, 110m² commercial property with mezzanine levels to be used for storage of equipment.

The design directly references the derelict and abandoned barns that are scattered across the Fenland countryside of Cambridgeshire and the surrounding area. The barn is ‘crooked’ in form, hence its name, and it leans to one side supported by an internally exposed asymmetric galvanised steel truss system, which allows the SIP construction to fully wrap the frame creating a high thermally performing shell.

As the roof leans over to the south elevation of the site, the roof slope is extended and creates a larger surface area, which will be populated by solar thermal and PV electric panels. These will be directly connected to the daily function of the hydrotherapy system and other treatment facilities within the practice, reducing the carbon footprint of the building and making the running of the practice as efficient as possible.

The crooked form of the barn will be clad in black stained timber – again a direct, yet contemporary reference to the history and aesthetics of a Fenland barn. The cladding will be open battens creating areas behind the cladding that light can penetrate, like the external entrance terrace. There will be shutters, shades and drawbridges over the entrances and openings to allow the building to be fully packed away due to its remote location and keep the practice and its equipment secure.

It will be one of a kind in the surrounding area boasting state of the art equipment and a dedicated facility for the treatment of domestic animals, situated in the heart of the Fens close to the town of Chatteris.

4. a crooked barn ground floor plan by richard john andrews

4. a crooked barn ground floor plan by richard john andrews

Project data

Location Horseley Fen, Cambridgeshire.
Clients Helen Fentem-Jones and Terry Calver
Business Fentem-Jones Veterinary Rehabilitation
Description A veterinary rehabilitation practice specialising in hydrotherapy using water treadmills for the treatment of domestic animals
Architecture and design studio Richard John Andrews
Structural engineer Structure Workshop 
Type of project Commercial
Started construction September 2018
Expected completion September 2019
Contract duration circa 12 months
Form of contract/procurement Client project-managed build
Scale 110m²
Cost Undisclosed

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Readers' comments (1)

  • No explanation why steel rather than timber was chosen for the structure, given the small scale of the building - and it appears that it's not just light that will penetrate behind the cladding.
    Hope it's not another Dartington Primary in the making.

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