Transition by Design were asked to provide architectural and design services to convert a thatched barn in Boars Hill, Oxfordshire into a dwelling. The barn had previously been partially converted into part dwelling, part garage; with the eastern half still being used as storage and not inhabited. While not listed itself, the building falls within curtilage of a Grade II listed building which meant that we had to gain listed building consent as well as planning permission. Our job as architects was to enable the barn to be more energy efficient with a more contemporary design and larger living accommodation, without negatively impacting on its heritage character.

In order to improve the thermal efficiency we took a fabric first approach, which means that we improved the thermal envelope as a priority before thinking about introducing new technologies. These improvements also reduce existing damp and increase longevity of traditional timber rafters and beams that are so important to the barn’s character. We have also included some exciting technologies such as a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) which will provide the barn with it’s heating needs. GSHPs are readily available in the UK; they work by taking heat out of the ground, raising its temperature and using this energy to heat your home.

Wide floor to ceiling glazing to maximise light and garden views

In addressing the need for a larger, more contemporary living accommodation we introduced open plan living spaces, making the fairly narrow barn feel much more spacious. Large areas of glazing allowed for brighter spaces and views over the beautiful garden, including the mulberry trees and lavender beds. New eyebrow dormers in the re-thatched roof provided just enough light for a cosy snug in the roof space for the teenagers of the family to enjoy. It feels like a long time ago now but planning was approved in June 2017 with the project starting on site shortly afterwards in July 2017.

Eyebrow dormers in newly thatched roof

Exposed beams inside barn

As well as providing architectural services, we were also employed as Contract Administrator. This meant that we coordinated the project while it was on site, making sure that there was a contract in place agreed upon by all parties and ensuring that the promised works were delivered on time and to budget.

There are no straight lines in nature and there are no straight lines in this barn either but that has only added to our design approach and the barn’s character, despite contemporary additions. After a year of construction, we are excited to share that the barn conversion is very nearly complete and the family are looking forward to inhabiting the space!