In the balance

Jan Knikker
Friday 08 May 2009

Living Architecture and MVRDV design could tip you over the edge

Suffolk in England could soon become home to one the most precarious buildings on the planet after Living Architecture and MVRDV collaborated on the design for the Balancing Barn, a cantilevered holiday home near the village of Thorington. Living Architecture, a British organization devoted to architecture as experience, has commissioned a series of outstanding holiday homes in the UK. MVRDV and co-architect Mole Architects from Cambridge will create a house sympathetic in spirit and materials to the exceptional natural site, which will be available for holiday rental from 2010.

Situated by a small lake in the English countryside near Thorington in Suffolk, from the road, the barn will be almost invisible. The front, being only 7 metres wide with a pitched roof, faces the long straight driveway approach, suggesting a small house with a traditional shape. The volume, however, has a length of 30 metres. At the midpoint it starts to cantilever over the descending slope; a balancing act made possible by the rigid structure of the building; resulting in 50% of the barn being in free space, and giving a wide view over the Suffolk landscape, adjacent lake and surrounding gardens. The long sides of the structure are well hidden by trees allowing privacy inside and around the barn. The exterior will be covered in a reflective material, resulting in the barn changing its exterior by reflecting the seasons.

Within the interior and closest to the driveway, is a kitchen, and large dining room. A series of four double bedrooms follows, each with separate bathroom and toilet. In the very centre of the barn, the bedroom sequence is interrupted by a hidden staircase providing access to the garden beneath. In the far, cantilevered end of the barn, a large living space is created. Throughout all the rooms, full height sliding windows, roof lights and a glass floor, give wonderful views and access into the garden and surrounding landscape, and give the visitors the opportunity to connect with nature.

The barn responds through its architecture and engineering to the site condition and natural setting. The traditional barn shape and reflective metal sheeting take their references from the local building vernacular. Completion is planned in Spring 2010, when the house will be open for letting. Living Architecture has commissioned other houses by Peter Zumthor, Jarmund and Vigsnæs Architects, NORD and Hopkins Architects.

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United Kingdom

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