by 31/44 Architects and Taylor Made Space
Client Private Client
Awards RIBA East Award 2022
Norfolk Barn has duplicity: on the one hand, it embodies a fantasy, luxurious weekend house, evoking the emancipation and excitement of a family holiday, complete with transplanted ancient olive tree. On the other hand, a deeper engagement with the place reveals itself: the father of one of the clients was the vicar of the church next door and the project itself takes on and gently subverts the modern steel-framed barn of the farm which forms the neighbour on the other side. What started out as a weekend house has become, over the COVID-19 crisis, a permanent family home, and the design has been able to adapt and mature to support that shift from fantasy to everyday living.
The steel frame of the original agricultural building and more importantly, its striking enclosed volume have been used to create the new house. The desire to maintain an inscrutable character to the outside has led to some engaging and unusual design strategies. The scale of spaces sometimes surprises, as does the ‘jump cut’ of elements and volumes that are not often seen together, particularly not in a domestic setting. These relationships are presented through a series of internal views and juxtapositions, or involve the gap created between the original barn frame and the new internal skin of the dwelling. The desire to avoid domestic familiarity extends to the materials employed and a certain ‘direct and rudimentary’ approach to detailing and form – for example, the in situ concrete table frame that supports the primary bedroom above the pool.
In relation to environmental sustainability, this unique conversion has implemented the principles of a fabric-first approach to merge an enhanced fabric made of timber infill panels to the existing steel frame structure of the barn. In terms of operational energy use, it takes advantage of the expansive surrounding site to include a ground source heat pump, while mechanical ventilation has been included only for the spa facilities. Overall, the most significant carbon credential of this project is presented by the reuse of an existing structure that would otherwise have been discarded.
Contractor Draper & Nicholls
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Andrew Morton Associates
Environmental / M&E Engineer xco2
Project Management Andrew Morton Associates
Internal area 440 m2