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BUILDING
 
 
Balancing Barn
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DESIGNER
 
 
MVRDV
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CONTEXT
 
Relationship with the location
MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, SuffolkBalancing Barn is situated on a beautiful site by a small lake in the English countryside near Thorington in Suffolk. 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. In this sense the Balancing Barn aims to live up to its educational goal in re-evaluating the countryside and making modern architecture accessible. Additionally, it is both a restful and exciting holiday home. Furnished to a high standard of comfort and elegance, set in a quintessentially English landscape, it engages its temporary inhabitants in an experience.
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DESCRIPTION
 
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MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, Suffolk
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MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, SuffolkApproaching along the 300 meter driveway, Balancing Barn looks like a small, two-person house.  It is only when visitors reach the end of the track that they suddenly experience the full length of the volume and the cantilever. The Barn is 30 meters long, with a 15 meters cantilever over a slope, plunging the house headlong into nature. The reason for this spectacular setting is the linear experience of nature. As the site slopes, and the landscape with it, the visitor experiences nature first at ground level and ultimately at tree height. The linear structure provides the stage for a changing outdoor experience.

MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, SuffolkAt the midpoint the Barn 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. The structure balances on a central concrete core, with the section that sits on the ground constructed from heavier materials than the cantilevered section. The long sides of the structure are well concealed by trees, offering privacy inside and around the Barn.

The exterior is covered in reflective metal sheeting, which, like the pitched roof, takes its references from the local building vernacular and reflects the surrounding nature and changing seasons.

On entering the Barn, one steps into a kitchen and a 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, there is a large living space with windows in three of its walls, floor and ceiling. The addition of a fireplace makes it possible to experience all four elements on a rainy day. Full height sliding windows and roof lights throughout the house ensure continuous views of, access to and connectivity with nature.

MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, SuffolkThe interior is based on two main objectives:

- The house is an archetypical two-person home, expanded in shape and content so that it can equally comfortably accommodate eight. Two will not feel lost in the space, and a group of eight will not feel too cramped.

- A neutral, timeless timber is the backdrop for the interior, in which Studio Makkink & Bey have created a range of furnishings that reflect the design concept of the Barn.

The rooms are themed. Partly pixilated and enlarged cloud studies by John Constable and country scenes by Thomas Gainsborough are used as connecting elements between the past and contemporary Britain, as carpets, wall papers and mounted textile wall-elements. The crockery is made up of a set of English classics for two, and a modern series for a further six guests, making an endless series of combinations possible and adding the character of a private residence to the home.
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MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, Suffolk
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MATERIALS
 
concrete, metal, wood

MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, SuffolkThe long sides of the structure are well concealed by trees, offering privacy inside and around the Barn.

The exterior is covered in reflective metal sheeting, which, like the pitched roof, takes its references from the local building vernacular and reflects the surrounding nature and changing seasons.

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ECO-SUSTAINABILITY'
 
MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, SuffolkThe Barn is highly insulated, ventilated by a heat recovery system, warmed by a ground source heat pump, resulting in a high energy efficient building.
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LOCATION
 
Continent
Europe
Nation
United Kingdom
State
England
Region
East
County
Suffolk
District
Suffolk Coastal
Town
Aldeburgh
Parish
Thorington
 
 
Website
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MAP
 
 
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TYPOLOGY
 
ARCHITECTURE
Residential buildings
Holiday buildings
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Realisation
2010
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AWARDS
 
2011
RIBA Awards 2011
2011
Red Dot Design Award
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BIBILIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
 
 
Corinne Julius, "Balancing Barn", Blueprint 297, december 2010, p. 24
William Wiles, "Balancing Barn", Icon 89, november 2010, pp. 80-83
Kirsten Hannema, "Holiday houses, United Kingdom", A10 new European architecture 31, january-february 2010, pp. 14-15
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CLIENT
 
 
Living Architecture
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DIMENSIONAL
DATA
 
Surface
sq.m. 210
Capacity
8 peoples
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STRUCTURES
 
 
Jane Wernick associates
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LANDSCAPE DESIGN
 
 
The Landscape Partnership
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STAFF
 
Associate designers
Mole Architects
Design team
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries
with Frans de Witte and Gijs Rikken
Interior design
Studio Makkink & Bey
Art intervention
Gijs Rikken
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CREDITS
 
 
Photos © Chris Wright, Edmund Sumner, Living Architecture
Drawings © MVRDV
Text edited by MVRDV
Courtesy of MVRDV

MVRDV, Balancing Barn. Living Architecture, Thorington, Suffolk



If you haven't already clicked on the photo strip at the top of the page, for the gallery of photos [26 images] and drawings [8 images], enter here
 
 
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