UK-based architects John McAslan + Partners just finished converting a 1929 stone barn into a contemporary library and student center at the University of Cumbria's Ambleside campus. The beautiful refurbishment project focused on protecting the integral structure of the traditional Cumbrian structure's stone exterior, while features like an extended pitched roof and large windows were added to bring more functionality to the building. The sophisticated new library and student center is just the first step in an ambitious master plan for the architects, who will be repairing and renovating various buildings on campus while improving the university's landscape, which is set in an expansive national park.
The completed barn conversion now serves as a welcoming new social center for the university’s students. The interior space was extended significantly thanks to a new sloped roof. The architects left the original timber beams exposed in order to enhance the volume and openness of the interior space, and large refurbished glass windows provide an optimal amount of natural light throughout the building.
New stone floors were installed on the ground floor and cafeteria, extending the exterior material palette indoors. Pale wood was used on the interior’s ceiling and walls to lighten up the space. For community areas and the library, the architects chose fitted furniture and rounded booths to provide a comfortable, inviting environment. The timber-clad café is definitely the heart of the building, and its floor-to-ceiling windows provide beautiful views of the newly landscaped courtyard and expansive campus.
Using a mix of repurposed and new materials, the architects were able to retain the barn‘s original character while creating a new practical use for the structure. “The reconfiguration, a contemporary interpretation of Cumbrian vernacular, respects the original stone fabric of the building while enhancing the character and quality of the space,” said the architects.
Photography by Hufton + Crow