The beauty of barns.
CUSTOM BUILD HOMES FOR A SITE IN RURAL KENT
LOCAL BARNS AND MODEST AGRICULTURAL OUTBUILDINGS ARE THE INSPIRATION BEHIND A SERIES OF CONTEMPORARY NEW HOMES.
Barns make beautiful homes. They provide large, flexible open spaces, suitable for contemporary life, open plan living and working. Their semi-industrial nature promises a softer, rural version of urban loft living. Dotted around the Kentish countryside, they seem to fit effortlessly into their surroundings.
This project builds on the many attractions of barns and simple agricultural buildings to try and find an appropriate visual language for contemporary rural housing and complement the semi-rural, rolling landscape of Kent. A further ambition is to create a place that somehow feels both old and new. The homes are of course, new but perhaps have a sense they have always been there, and have simply slowly grown over time.
The large development is designed to feel small. Individual houses are clustered around a series of intimate landscaped courtyards, based on farmsteads, which allow opportunities for chance encounters and social interaction. Large private gardens and car parking is provided within each plot- with integrated car ports framing views of gardens beyond.
Roofs are a key feature of the scheme and provide visual interest, with steep gables, asymmetric roofs and varied eaves lines creating a series of different internal volumes. This spatial complexity provides a variety of interiors and internal spaces- with living areas open to the roof and cosy bedrooms and work spaces tucked into the roof structure.
A rich and warm design vocabulary uses a combination of natural materials and components, which helps reduce the scale of each building and increase visual interest. The ground floor walls are finished using robust materials including brick and Kentish Ragstone. These massive walls are contrasted with large areas of glazing, which flood the interiors with light. Bay windows have floor to ceiling glass or window seats. Large dormer windows are used to suggest later insertions, and are positioned to exploit existing views.
The timber frame structures are finished using a wide variety of materials that work well together and create a harmonious yet distinctive development. For instance, timber cladding is used in different ways and left to weather naturally – effectively becoming maintenance free, or is coloured using natural plant dyes. Dwellings incorporate bat and bird boxes, with bee bricks integrated into south facing walls and the species, colours and textures of the planting are chosen to complement the architecture, encourage local wildlife and provide suitable food sources.
This scheme explores the idea of combining a sensitive, site specific approach with benefits of prefabrication. By using modern construction methods, we can increase build quality and reduce costs. All of the houses are designed to fit within a fully costed and coordinated construction system with a menu of standard details. This means design and construction risk is reduced.
The homes are designed to very high energy efficient standards, using the heat of the sun to warm the houses in winter, and natural ventilation to cool the homes in summer. Internal finishes smooth out extreme variations in temperatures, meaning that the interiors stay cool, like a traditional stone cottage.