In 2017, Dutch design firm HilberinkBosch Architects found out that seven of their century-old oak trees were in ailing health and would need to be cut down. Instead of sending the oaks to the paper mill, the architects decided to try their hand at building a timber barn using traditional construction techniques. The result—called the Sixteen-Oak Barn—was a stunning success that combines modern and rustic features with large panels of glazing and untreated timbers.
The idea for a barn came from the local building vernacular in the Dutch region of Meierij van ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which features gabled farmhouses traditionally built from locally available materials. In a design the architects describe as “haphazard aesthetics,” the Sixteen-Oak Barn was constructed of the locally felled, century-old oak trees in addition to a couple of oaks sourced from the nearby Wamberg estate. The barn comprises a carport, storage room, and a workshop / meeting room for office use. There is also an addition loft space located above the storage room.
A mobile sawmill brought on-site was used to cut the core sections of the felled oak tree trunks into structural timber for the frames, roof, and siding. The transverse-frame barn involves tie rod trusses and roof rafters to hold up an asymmetrical shingled roof clad in cleaved soft sapwood. Stanchions with bark serve as solar fins to shield the glazed facade from unwanted solar heat gain. Board-formed concrete complements the timber palette indoors. Leftover timber was chopped and stored as firewood in the barn’s recessed north facade.
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“The barn’s aesthetics have been strongly influenced by coincidence,” wrote the architects. “It lends this contemporary building a vital expression that merges old and new in a wonderful and extraordinary way. Untreated timber, concrete and glass have been intermingled in various ways. The irregular dimensions of the wood used to build the formwork resulted in far from perfect concrete surfaces.”
Images by René de Wit