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Architecture Archive

Project Title: Architecture Archive

Client: Private

Architect: Hugh Strange Architects

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Main contractor/joinery: Eurban

Wood supplier: Stora Enso

Hardwood Joinery: 3f2 Carpentry

Construction manager: Paul Rawson

specialist joinery to display panels: Lars Wagner

Project Description:

Located within the context of a working Somerset farmyard the new Architecture Archive sits at the foot of an agricultural valley amongst a mix of buildings that include barns, wood stores and sheds that date from the 19th Century to the present day.

The dilapidated walls and roof of an old stone and brick barn have been removed and the remaining walls carefully stabilized and repaired. Within these, two timber structures sit on a rough in-situ cast concrete base. Above, a single new profiled cement roof, similar to those of the surrounding barns, extends the full length of the building to provide a covered entrance; the vented space between this and the timber preventing overheating during hot summer months.

Identical in volume, the two timber volumes are subtly differentiated through their fenestration and fit-out. The North building provides an office space and is characterised by large French windows that offer views to the wooded valley outside. In contrast the South building houses a drawing archive and is predominantly top lit by a generous roof light.

The new building shell is constructed of a single layer of solid cross-laminated timber without insulation, external wall cladding or internal lining. The Spruce panels range from 300mm to 420mm in thickness and simultaneously provide insulation and thermal mass, creating stability of temperature and relative humidity for the storage of the drawings inside. Over the coming year environmental monitoring will form the basis of a research project into the performance of the material with a view to establishing potential future applications.

In contrast to the engineered Spruce construction, the floors of the two large rooms are fit out with hardwood ‘mats’ using timber felled from the surrounding woodlands and dried in the neighbouring wood store. Rough-sawn Cedar floorboards to the office and smooth sanded and oiled Ash and Beech to the archive distinguish the different characters of the spaces.

Within the archive the drawings are displayed on a series of bespoke timber panels designed in collaboration with a specialist joiner and an upholsterer. These comprise 26mm crosslaminated Spruce, upholstered and lined on one side with fabric from standard packing blankets. In their closed position these discretely blend with the walls of the space, the visible stitching suggesting that something special lies behind. They fold out to provide a richly textured wall for display.

With a construction budget of £250,000 and providing 120m2 of accommodation, the project mixes a radical use of engineered timber with traditionally crafted and locally sourced hardwood to create a building that, through an evident economy of means, sits unpretentiously in its farmyard environment, while providing generous and luxurious interiors.