Blue Sky thinking transforms disused barn

Bringing together the agricultural and the utilitarian to create the dramatic.

Blue Sky Barn is a fascinating conversion of a disused barn situated on a farm in Norfolk, UK, into a four-bedroom family home. Here, architects 31/44 have used form and materials to preserve the memory of the original agricultural structure while creating a stunning new residential and leisure environment with enhanced levels of comfort and refinement.

The house presents a quiet façade of corrugated metal walls and roof with vertical larch louvres. It is characterised by a calm restrained exterior and playful interior volumes, created on two floors within the 450sqm footprint of the original barn.

Externally, it was critical that the glazing retained the scale and drama of the overall barn but also that it was subdivided in a way that facilitated wide openings and viewpoints at ground level.

Internally, the design fulfils the wish of the owners to preserve the original raw and cavernous character while avoiding overtly domestic finishes. Central to the design is a 15m long swimming pool. With such a large spacious interior, the architects needed to find a solution for reverberating sound and acoustic dampening. As a result, Troldtekt’s wood wool panelling has been used throughout the living and pool areas to combat and soften elevated noise levels.

A grid style was used to give an overall order to the ground floor. This could then be used to accommodate wide sliding doorways or solid elements, such as fireplaces. At the first-floor level, the grid is further subdivided which gives the zone a screen-like quality and relates to the tight larch louvres which wrap around the other sides of the barn. This is the section of the grid that helps to exaggerate the wide horizontal openings at ground level and the tall vertical windows above.

The first floor is formed from a curtain wall system whereas the ground floor is formed from a sliding door system. The window systems were divided like this in order to reap the benefits from both. For example, it avoids the issue of combining openings elements into a curtain wall system which relies upon additional unwanted framework.