New Barn




Architect: Rural office for architecture
Client: niall and helen maxwell
Awards won: welsh architecture award and small project of the year


This is a replacement barn built in the grounds of the architect’s farmstead on the footprint of the previous structure. The design follows a rigorous approach to detailing and a disciplined grid layout for the portal frame which sets out the plan form. The barn’s structure is based on modular Parallam engineered timber frame which allows for future flexibility and even potential change of use. It is currently used as a temporary home until the existing farm house conversion is completed.

Externally the barn has a practical and restrained appearance with carefully detailed timber cladding and corrugated sheet roofing in complementary colours. The external design is carefully detailed, suggesting a modern interpretation of a barn, but without giving in to the temptation for parody. It has a pleasing symmetry, but this does not feel contrived, and the internal floor plan works well because of this constraint rather than despite it.

Internally the environment is quite austere, fitting in with the discipline and understatement of the exterior. A concrete floor, exposed dry lining boards and plywood are the main materials once again used to complement the compact rigour of the internal layout. A central core, containing the entrance lobby, bathroom and kitchen, separates two open areas to both ends of the barn. One of these is the living space and the other is subdivided into two small bedrooms opening out into a play area for the children.

Two ingenious Dutch tile stoves, located in each of these open areas, provide the heating for the barn. On average these need lighting only once a day during the cold season, and provide constant radiant heat, but also latent stored heat well after the fires have been extinguished. The majority of the materials on the building are local, and this was a self-build project, using friends and family for the construction.

The jury was impressed with the careful selection of materials, the integrity of the detailing, the rigour of the planning and the apparent simplicity of the concept, which belies the amount of careful design thought which obviously went into this project. 


contractor: Self Build


COST: £80,000


photographer: mojo photography