CategoryResidential, Paragraph 84
Costbuild £932,000 off grid £75,000
A rigorously environmental, modern interpretation of the agricultural black barn.
From the approach, Black Barn is a visually impressive, contemporary piece of architecture that sits discreetly within the landscape. However, it also provides a shelter; a bespoke and comfortable family home that is rigorously environmental and efficient to run.
Permission for Black Barn was granted under Paragraph 84 of the NPPF (previously Paragraph 80/79/55). Studio Bark have carried out extensive research in this niche area of planning policy which can open up opportunities for you to build your new home in the countryside.
Re-imagining the traditional East Anglian black barn
The design is a modern yet sensitive interpretation of the black agricultural barn, a typology that has scattered the East Anglian countryside for centuries. Black timber cladding of the exterior and exposed structural timbers reference a vernacular language through this contemporary re-imagining.
The barn is a floating sculptural form surrounded by wild grass meadow. The emergent shape is designed to have a minimum impact on its surroundings, while the form has evolved from environmental considerations. These include solar heat gain, shading and passive ventilation, to establish a dialogue with the seasonal and diurnal rhythms of the site.
Its simple yet effective structural logic was developed in partnership with engineers Structure Workshop. This resulted in an honest and efficient solution to building the family home. On the inside, UK-sourced Douglas Fir scissor trusses taper upwards towards the large southern gable. As a result, they create a dramatic and elevated roofline with framing views to the surrounding countryside. While the glazing is facing south, it is also set back. This enables the building to self-shade in the hot summer sun while benefiting from passive solar heating in winter.
An environmentally innovative house
The internal temperature is incredibly stable and energy demand is low, thanks to meticulous detailing of the building fabric, in conjunction with passive heating and ventilation principles. A reduction in scale of fenestration towards the north helps to minimise heat losses.
Locally sourced timber, aggregate and flint, hugely reduce the home’s carbon footprint. The building envelope is highly insulated and draught free, using natural timber fibre insulation from ‘Back to Earth’.
The family home layout
Black Barn comprises two floors which are thoughtfully defined into zones for different purposes.
The upper ground floor is dramatic, bright, open and expansive. On entering the building, your eye draws up to a dramatic series of expressed scissor trusses through to the glazed gable and views of the landscape beyond. The kitchen is placed centrally adjacent to a bespoke birch plywood stair. The open plan playroom maximises views between spaces, allowing Mum and Dad to keep an eye on the children.
By contrast, the lower ground floor is simple, functional and peaceful. This floor reads as a ‘flint plinth’ embedded into the earth. As such all bedrooms and bathrooms are shaded from direct sunlight which allows them to remain cool and comfortable in the summer.
The lowering and recessing of the ground floor enables the timber form to appear as if it’s floating above the grass, as well as reducing the overall visible mass of the building.
“From day one, we had tried not to get too attached to the design of Black Barn, as the project was originally conceived as an investment opportunity. However, as the design progressed, we couldn’t help falling in love with this house. Having lived here for several months we have absolutely no regrets. We now live in an incredibly beautiful, bespoke and comfortable home, which responds to the sun, the wind and the rain. Studio Bark are an inspiring bunch. They are always hunting for new and interesting ways to solve problems, whilst helping us with our brief and keeping an eye on the budget. Their insights and guidance have been invaluable throughout the project.”
– James Holland, Client
“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. It easily raises the bar for the quality of design in rural areas.”
– Robert Scrimgeour, Senior Design and Conservation Officer, Suffolk Coastal District Council
Black Barn, Architecture Today, August 2019
Studio Bark builds off-grid Black Barn in Suffolk meadow, Dezeen, January 2019
Black to Basics: Studio Bark house in rural Suffolk, Architects’ Journal, March 2019
Black Barn, Dalinghoo, RIBA Journal, May 2019
RIBA East Awards Winner – 2019