Studio Bark has recently completed an off-grid home inspired by the vernacular architecture of rural Suffolk, UK. The two-story house, which is fully powered by solar and bio-diesel, appears as a floating sculptural form surrounded by wild grass meadow. The striking form evolved from environmental considerations including solar heat gain, shading and passive ventilation, establishing a dialogue with the seasonal and diurnal rhythms of the site.
The design is a modern yet sensitive interpretation of the black agricultural barn – a typology that has scattered the East Anglian countryside for centuries and references the site’s historical context as a poultry farm. The Balck Barn is characterized by its charred cedar-clad first floor, which Studio Bark designed to reference local agricultural buildings.
A simple yet effective structural logic was developed in partnership with engineers Structure Workshop, resulting in an honest and efficient solution. UK-sourced Douglas Fir scissor trusses taper upwards towards the large southern gable, create a dramatic elevated roofline and frame views to the surrounding countryside. The southern glazing at the gable end is set back enabling the building form to self-shade in the hot summer sun, while benefiting from passive solar heating in winter.
In order to take full advantage of its setting, Black Barn was conceived as a form belonging to the wider countryside. The landscaping was carefully considered to avoid any visual impact of domestic clutter with a sunken pocket garden hidden by a curved flint wall. The softness of the surrounding meadow juxtaposes the drama of the bold form, whilst respecting the defining character of the rural environment.
All the materials used to construct Black Barn are locally sourced, and it is completely off-grid – using energy from a solar panel, bio-diesel generator with heat recovery system and battery storage, alongside a borehole water source and packaged sewage system.