The barn is situated on the borders of Essex and Suffolk within the landscape painted by Constable. Originally the barn formed part of the home farm of the nearby manor house which was burnt down in the 1950s.
Project Name: Church Hill Barn
Studio Name: David Nossiter Architects
The centrepiece of the site has views over pastoral landscape and boasts cathedral-like proportions, it is cruciform in plan with smaller spaces in each corner and an example of the model farm movement.
Having sold their own property in nearby Colchester the owners decided to reside in a caravan on the grounds of the the site during the build. David was chosen as the architect because he had worked with the clients on a previous project in Colchester. In order to agree a modern intervention, as the barn is a Grand II Listed building the works required required lengthy agreements with the local planning authorities. A large element of the construction consists of the refurbishment of the roof.
Victorian roofing slates have been salvaged from the structures on the site too decayed to be usefully renovated. In order to allow the existing structure to be viewed internally the roof insulation is located on the exterior of the roof on top of a new timber deck. The external walls are clad with naturally weathered larch timber and the openings simply fenestrated. The glazing is set back from the external wall line to emphasise the texture of the facade. Enormous glazed sliding doors fill the existing gable porches, which enables views across the internal courtyard towards the open meadows. Two large square roof lights allow day light to enter deep into the interior of the tall interior. The partitioning has been designed as over scaled freestanding furniture of birch-faced plywood. This enables the plan may be as open as possible, maintaining the agricultural nature of the building. Lighting is operated using existing switch boxes and concealed within the existing structure, existing metal grilles and new joinery.
Polished concrete flooring with zoned underfloor heating runs throughout the building, fed by a biomass boiler. Heating is assisted by a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system that recirculates warm air stacking in the taller spaces. The tall central space of the original barn has functioned as a gallery space for the owners to events, dances and exhibitions for the local community. Externally is simple wildflower planting interspersed with salvaged brick paving.