McLaren Excell

Brick Barns are the principal buildings forming part of a late Victorian farm situated high in the Chiltern hills. The Grade II listed barns comprise artisanal brickwork, cast iron tracery and louvred windows. 

Two primary considerations shaped the overall layout – the existing first floor structure and the original perimeter louvred windows. The first floor joists and floorboards were installed as a hayloft, resulting in a beautiful overhead structure. The original perimeter cast iron louvred windows needed to continue let light into all areas without any room enclosures blocking them out.

The result is a ground plan with two central ‘pods’ designed to accommodate all necessary services and the staircase, enabling the rest of the floor plan to function without any partitions. This allows the barn to exist as one very large room, as it has always been.

Simple, resilient and robust materials were chosen to complement the building's agricultural origins, with a muted palette benefitting the whitewashed floor structure. The ground floor is divided into zones by low-level concrete ‘furniture’ elements and over-scaled black steel furniture, and the two ‘pods’ are panelled in muted sheet material.

The walls of these pods do not touch the ceiling such that it appears to float above them, with service risers set well back to avoid being seen. Black steel has been used for the kitchen, staircase and fireplaces. At first floor level, the larch trusses have been left intact with simple larch boarding applied to the pitched ceilings and walls.

The environmental strategy involved upgrading the thermal performance of the original listed building wherever possible.