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Black Barn


Dallinghoo, Suffolk










Black Barn is a rigorously environmental 300sqm family home for a local couple who dream of living in the beautiful English countryside with their young family. The design is a modern yet sensitive interpretation of the humble black agricultural barn, many of which have scattered the East Anglian countryside for centuries.

The house is seamlessly clad in Shou Sugi Ban (charred Western Red Cedar); an ancient Japanese application of charring timber as a form of preservation; a natural, non-toxic way to enhance the longevity and beauty of wood.

Inspired by the building’s ambition to have as little impact as possible on its surroundings, the building appears as a floating sculptural form, hovering over a wild grass meadow. A dramatic roof line is cast from the large gable end opening to the south, which then tapers to North. The simple form and orientation has been designed to maximise solar heat gain and natural ventilation.

Environmental innovation

– As a completely self-sustaining home, the major features that allow Black Barn to go off-grid are:

– Solar array

– A Combined Heat and Power Unit fueled by wood pellets

– Battery storage

– On site sewage treatment

– Water sourced through borehole

This low impact building uses locally sourced timber, aggregate and flint, hugely reducing the home’s carbon footprint. Food miles are also minimised by the planting of a domestic orchard of local tree species and vegetable patches. A combination of passive environmental design strategies provide season specific heating and cooling. The timber frame itself is highly insulated and draught free, using natural insulation materials to reduce embodied energy. The hot summer sun is blocked out by the substantial gabled overhang, whereas the cooler winter sun is able to enter into the thermal envelope. The increased height at the south gable end and minimised building depth, encourages natural cross and stack ventilation. In addition, the in-situ GGBS concrete floor slab to the south provides a dense element which absorbs a lot of the sun’s heat, eventually releasing it into the space once the internal temperature drops.


“The benefit of this NPPF test and of such high quality schemes as the submitted one is that they continuously develop the language of rural design and help create a twenty-first century vernacular … The end result is highly original in terms of the strength of the original concept, its derivation and the form of its expression. Although born of a modest, if not humble, building typology the submitted scheme presents itself as innovative architecture and easily raises the bar for the quality of design in rural areas.” – Robert Scrimgeour, Senior Design and Conservation Officer, Suffolk Coastal District Council

“We hope that the finished building will be a credit to all concerned. Dallinghoo is a very special village and deserves the best!”– Cliff Green, local resident, Dallinghoo

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