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Feering Bury Farm Barn

Feering Bury Farm Barn

Repair & Adaptive Reuse Winner 2012

Building Owner/ Client: Ben Coode-Adams and Freddie Robins
Location: Feering, Essex
Architect: Hudson Architects
Structural Engineer: The Morton Partnership
Main Contractor/ Builder: NS Restorations
Wood Species & Products used: English oak.

Feering Bury Farm Barn is a conversion of a large timber-framed barn into a family home and artist studios. The barn, whose central structure dates to around 1560 with Georgian additions, is Grade II listed.

The philosophy was to retain as much of the original fabric as possible, and conservation officers were keen to retain the semi-industrial appearance of the barn. This had proved problematic to previous designers who had been unable to overcome officers’ particular insistence that the roof should contain no visible rooflights. The owner, Ben Coode-Adams, worked alongside Hudson Architects as design collaborator and project manager. Ben was able to bring his flair as an artist to the project and much of the interior design – particularly the use of reclaimed materials – is his own work.

Almost all the original timber frame (predominantly oak with some elm and softwood replacement parts) has been retained, with new timber (oak with some ash and alder) used sparingly to replace timbers that were no longer usable. The structure was carefully repaired in discussion with a conservation structural engineer, seeking to understand and replicate original construction principles and keeping modern interventions to a minimum. Pre-painted softwood feather board has been used to match the original external cladding which was no longer usable.

Much of the timber came from the farm – for example waney edged alder sarking sourced from a diseased windbreak (used as internal wall cladding) alongside ash and alder (used for beams in the ground floor bedroom).

Reclaimed timber is used extensively and imaginatively throughout the barn. In the bedrooms, old tea chests have been used for panelled doors to cupboards and wardrobes, while walnut, oak and pseudo acacia felled on the farm during the 1988 Great Storm are used for doors. Elsewhere, a colourful and often playful patchwork of off-cuts is used for other doors and doorframes. Kitchen cupboards are built from beautifully coloured and textured featherboard offcuts, providing a tactile surface that contrasts pleasingly with the polished concrete floor and work surfaces. Reclaimed wood – even old fruit boxes – have been used for items of furniture and light fittings. An external deck has been built from reclaimed oak sleepers.

To create private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms, two large 20th century internal concrete silos were brought into re-use. While one houses bathrooms serving the bedrooms, another contains a beautiful green oak spiral staircase designed and built by Ben that leads to the master bedroom suite on a mezzanine floor.

Hudson Architects’ solution for the roof was to conceal polycarbonate rooflights beneath an expanded steel mesh. The openings permit light into the barn from above, while remaining invisible from the exterior and giving the appearance of a solid, uninterrupted roof surface that is faithful to the barn’s semi-industrial external character. Beneath the roof, large sheets of Latvian birch plywood provide a raw finish that corresponds with the barn’s semi-industrial character, while offering a powerful contrast between modern materials and the ancient timbers of the barn’s oak frame.