Autotroph has sent us diagrams of a wonderful concept that could save Maryland's ailing tobacco barns from extinction. Fundamental to both the region's history and landscape, these beautiful structures have been displaced by development and neglect. So the Santa Fe and Baltimore-based design firm designed a tripartite solution that preserves Maryland's iconic tobacco barns, creates housing for single families, and supports sustainable development.
Autotroph proposes to transform the skin of the existing barn to make it more structurally-sound and insert a new, energy-efficient single-family home inside. A new engineered frame would stabilize the structure, while flaps, shutters, and sliding panels would be added to the envelope in place of doors and windows. In keeping with vernacular architecture, this intervention would also allow greater control over solar gain and natural ventilation.
Photovoltaic panels and a solar thermal system added to the roof, along with a rainwater catchment system, makes this adaptive re-use project just about as sustainable as it gets. And finally, constructed wetlands will treat wastewater on site. Such a brilliant and yet simple design that could preserve Maryland’s historical treasures, Autotroph’s re-barn could easily become reality.