Built in 1810, Redhill Barn was originally an out-farm, a model farm typology which emerged with the modernisation of farming on wealthy estates during the 19th century. The original building was beautifully built and laid out as a piece of agricultural engineering, with cattle housed below and a threshing floor above.
This project was to restore and convert the isolated and ruined stone barn, to create a new home at the centre of an ecological smallholding. We wanted to restore the building’s character in an original way and to be very clear about what was old and new, retaining the weathered beauty of the monumental stone shell and wild agricultural setting. We wanted to show this when viewed in the landscape, reinstating the hipped roof with milled aluminium sheeting to ‘ghost’ the original roof form in a light, reflective material.
To preserve the striking elevations, we made no new openings, restoring the original dynamics of light and space to the building. We designed the new doors and windows so that fenestration was set back and minimised, allowing maximum light to enter. Arched pivot doors allow the wide openings that were originally made for cattle to remain undivided, yet easily handled. With the original timber floor and roof lost, we designed contemporary floor and roof elements to evoke the rhythm and simplicity found in traditional agricultural framing. The roof structure spans lengthways, utilising small section timber and steel connections, allowing the structure to sit higher than a conventional truss, and stressing the height, form and scale of the space. We then placed a number of floating ‘boxes’ across the two levels. These define and serve the principal rooms, yet allow the barn to remain open and undivided, with the rhythm of the structure and scale of the space maintained.
The cellular bedroom and kitchen spaces are on the ground floor, taking advantage of the many arched doors, with the upper floor being an open space for living and working. The organisation, hierarchy and history of the building is carefully expressed through different materials, with the new structure in douglas fir, the dividing ‘boxes’ clad in pale sycamore, and the original walls and columns in stone and lime plaster. The barn is in an isolated position and set within 25 acres of land. As part of the project we designed a new access drive and arranged for new services to the building. The scheme also encompasses a programme of ecological landscape design, with the creation of a vegetable garden, wild flower margins, copses and orchard.