With the disappearing of the family farm, old barns have been re-imagined as country homes for vacationing city slickers. The spacious style and simplicity of a barn also has a new appeal for contemporary architects. Not only do they recreate the best features of barn design for their clients, they create modern office and residential spaces for their own families and firms, mixing industrial and rustic materials in distinctly modern barn designs.
An Idea of a Barn by the Sea
A minimalist design firm in Japan created a work studio and residence for the owner of the firm and his design team on a peninsular slip of land in Hamamatsu City. The structure is clearly a barn and the interior architecture reinforces the design idea at every opportunity. It is three stories of concrete and wood with glass walls that let the fantastic view in and send out a warm golden light from the interior at night. The wood slats that cover some walls give the sense of gapped barn siding and let more light pass in and out of the space. Everywhere inside are wooden posts and beams with the architecture of a hayloft supporting simple second-floor bedrooms and sleek modern bathrooms. Spotlights draw attention to the geometry of the beams. Shoji screens divide the rooms. Floors are wooden boards or poured concrete and the roof, in a nod to an old tin-roofed barn, is covered in steel shingles. The sense that this is almost a working barn is maintained by a rigorous adherence to bare spaces and complete lack of clutter.
A Barn inside a Barn
In Pine Plains, New York, a modern barn home is built around an old, restored Dutch barn frame. The architecture follows a classic barn design but is almost completely open inside, with ceilings that soar to 37 feet and utilitarian concerns like bedrooms, bathrooms and storage tucked into a mezzanine along the sides of the space. The old barn framing is supplemented by a grid of steel supports that actually keep the structure in place. The outside is wide cedar plank siding and the windows, seeming random but actually set in the massive walls to take advantage of the views, let light into every corner. All the materials echo the land--there is a modern, freestanding stone fireplace, plenty of wood, polished concrete floors and spare decor that allows the attention to fix squarely on the architecture, the authentic remnants of the original barn, and the views.
A Green Barn in Bedfordshire
An award-winning barn-home conversion in Bedfordshire, England, was stretched by its architect to become the Long Barn Studio—the workspace for his firm. The new work wing, like the house, uses green architecture and amenities. It has its own wind turbine, rainwater harvesting system, centralised low-energy lighting and temperature controls. Everything is sealed and painted with non-toxic products. Interior walls are wooden boards, the bathroom sink is a long white trough, plumbing is exposed and the exterior is weathered wood, stone slab pavers, gravel beds and vegetable gardens bordered with old sleepers. The rustic feeling is tempered by glass walls like wide-open barn doors to the green fields outside, light that pours in through skylights, and long bare work surfaces with all work-clutter details hidden in built-ins. An outdoor conference table and chairs sit in the lee of a weathered grey wall. All that’s missing are the cows.
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