Midlands & East Anglia

Getting the balance right

Balancing Barn

The Balancing Barn is a four bedroom house built on a magnificent site beside a Suffolk nature reserve. The building was built as a one-off structure for Living Architecture and boasts a truly quirky interior – and exterior – design.

As the name suggests, The Balancing Barn does exactly what it says on the tin; it is a barn which pretty much balances on the landscape, or rather it balances across a 5 meter drop in the landscape. The building accommodates up to eight people and comprises four double bedrooms, along with a kitchen/dining room, washrooms and a living room.

The exterior of The Balancing Barn is clad in shimmering steel, whilst the interior is less off-the wall, yet still retains a very unique design. The walls and floor coverings borrow ideas from local artists Constable and Gainsborough and the furniture is both bold and contemporary.

MVRDV was the architect on The Balancing Barn, whilst Mole Architects was the executive architect behind the project. Studio Makkink & Bey was responsible for the interior design and Seamans Building was the main contractor.

Balancing Barn

Working with Living Architecture and their design team on The Balancing Barn, Seamans Building installed 65m³ of concrete foundations and 28 tonnes of heavy duty steel to form the cantilevered structure; a steel deck and concrete floor was then created over the sailing section. The structure incorporated over 3000 meters of structure timbers, obtained from renewable sources and 380m² of high performance insulation sheets.

Externally, 380m² of steel shingles clad the walls and roof and a symphonic rainwater system was installed to draw water from the gutter to a rainwater harvesting tank. The building also includes 56m² of windows and doors, 9m² of glass panels, 98m² of aluminium mirror finish panels and 630m² of ash veneered board for the walls, ceilings and beams.

The only mains services to the building are electricity and telecommunications as the building boasts its own borehole water supply, a sewerage treatment plant, a ground source heat pump and a ventilation heat recovery system.

Balancing Barn

Commenting on the project, Mole Architects Senior Associate, Ian Bramwell, said:

“Very rarely do we get to experience modern architecture in a residential setting, so the idea with The Balancing Barn was to create a contemporary home that guests could rent for a couple of weeks at a time. The Balancing Barn was the first of a number of projects like this to be commissioned by Living Architecture and since it was completed it has been joined by a further five sites.

“We became involved with this project very early on in 2007, undertaking the responsibility of the executive architect in order to work closely with MVRDV to realise the scheme. Planning permission was given in 2008, with work beginning in 2009. The Balancing Barn reached completion in 2010 and the first guests stayed in the building in September of the same year.”

Balancing Barn

Ian added:

“This was a great project to be involved with and Living Architecture was a great client with a great vision. The idea was to make this as spectacular as possible and for us it presented the opportunity to work on a design that was a little out of the ordinary.

“We have now worked on three projects for Living Architecture and we are pleased to be involved with such interesting developments.”

Prices for a stay at The Balancing Barn start from just £810 for a four-night break. For more information about holidays steeped in modern architecture, or to make a booking at The Balancing Barn, please visit: www.living-architecture.co.uk.

Seamans Building

Seamans Building is a family owned company with a long history and an excellent reputation for quality work. The company is ISO9001:2008, a member of Constructionline and accredited for health and safety by CHAS and SAFEcontractor.

Working throughout East Anglia, Seamans Building undertakes commercial and industrial projects, works with social housing providers, carries out framework and contract work for educational clients and works on refurbishment, renovation and insurance works on listed buildings.

Balancing Barn

Seamans Building traces its origins back to 1912 when Octavius Seaman founded the company. O. Seaman and Son Ltd were registered in 1976, thereafter moving to new offices in 2005 and trading as Seamans Building.

Seamans Building has developed a good reputation locally for its sustainable buildings and its approach to becoming a greener low carbon company and is a finalist in the Greenest Business category of The Creating the Greenest County Awards. The company has undertaken an exemplar, near carbon zero, award winning social housing project at Clayfield for Orwell Housing, alongside completing another award winning low carbon dwelling for a client near Stowmarket.

In addition to working with County Councils, District Councils, numerous Housing Associations and local businesses; Seamans Building has been successful in developing working relationships with a variety of clients, including Living Architecture. Working with Living Architecture, Seamans Building completed The Balancing Barn as well as The long House at Cockthorpe.

The completion of The Balancing Barn has raised the profile of Seamans Building within the construction sector and Living Architectures’ publicity for the building has helped to put Suffolk on the map. The ability of Seamans Building to take on an innovative project such as The Balancing Barn is a reflection of its resources and training investments made over the years.

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Roma Publications

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