ofLiving Architecture, an organisation dedicated to bringing the British public into close contact with ambitious modern architectural projects, commissioned MVRDV in 2008 to design a contemporary structure in a quintessentially English countryside setting. Two years later and the Balancing Barn is complete, now available for holiday rentals via the Living Architecture website.
As the Barn is approached via a 300m driveway to the rear, the property appears deceptively average, its 15m cantilever concealed from view by vegetation. Only once visitors reach the end of the track does it become apparent that half of the 30m long building is suspended in mid-air. Coated in glistening sheet metal, the Balancing Barn retains the traditional barn form, ‘re-evaluating the countryside and making modern architecture accessible'.
With 50% of the structure cantilevering over a sharp slope, intelligent design was a key factor in this project to keep the Barn stable yet expressive. Balancing on a central concrete core, the section that sits on the ground is constructed from heavier materials than the cantilevered section. The surrounding natural landscape slopes with the hillside drop, meaning that the visitor finds themselves both at ground and tree level simultaneously. A swing has been installed at the very end of the suspended mass, incorporating an element of whimsy to an already playful abode.
Capable of hosting a total of eight visitors in its four double bedrooms, the surprisingly spacious interior has been carefully designed by Studio Makkini & Bey who created a unique range of furnishings specifically tailored to the design concept using neutral, classic timber as a base material. Each room is themed, with partly pixilated and enlarged works by John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough forging ties between the past and current elements of British culture.
Mole Architects were executive architects on this project and Studio Makkini & Bey collaborated on the interior design.