Have you ever neglected to close a door behind you, only to have someone (probably an older relative) ask you if you live in a barn? This saying comes from the barn's reputation of being a drafty place only fit for hay and animals. A recently renovated barn in Essex, UK, might change that stereotype, however. The Feeringbury Farm Barn was built in the 16th century, but a dedicated team of architects used reclaimed materials to transform it into a 21st-century home while retaining its structural integrity and medieval aesthetic.
Spearheaded by Hudson Architects, the barn project depended extensively on original and reclaimed materials, with new structural interventions kept to a minimum. Almost all the original timber-framed structure was retained, with new timber used sparingly to replace timbers that were no longer usable. The owners and designers were determined to preserve and highlight the barn’s former purpose, rather than covering it up like most barn-to-home renovations.
As a result, the exterior of the home looks very much like it did in the 1500s, with dramatically sloping roofs and feed silos located right outside the front door. Step inside, and the medieval barn architecture is front and center, from the vaulted ceilings to the exposed timber beams. “Reclaimed timber was used as panelling and even for items of furniture,” report the architects, “and reclaimed metal has also been used imaginatively: such as a hay manger set into a bedroom wall or fragments of metal used for structural bracing.”
To create private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms, two large 20th-century internal concrete silos were installed: one contains an oak spiral staircase leading to a mezzanine bedroom, while the other houses bathrooms serving the ground floor and mezzanine bedrooms. Together the silos separate the bedroom from living space. A unique steel mesh roof allows daylight to pour into the almost 6,000-square-foot space, eliminating the need for visible rooflights that would have destroyed the home’s historic authenticity.