Barn without purpose becomes exciting family home in Downland setting

Jul 14, 2023

Location: Ringmer, East Sussex

Work carried-out: This was a redundant unlisted barn that had been empty for a number of years.   It was bought with the benefit of a Change of Use approval for conversion to residential, but the approved scheme had room for improvement.   A new design was proposed and there was some negotiation with the Local Authority to make better use of the barn, an outbuilding and the site in general.

Project description: This property was not in the South Downs National Park so there was slightly more scope to suggest the sensible changes.   There was still a lot of attention paid to design and detail to ensure that it fitted into the Sussex vernacular in a way that was not dishonest pastiche and to offer it to the Planners like that.

The Ground Floor contains the Living spaces and the garage whilst the First Floor contains the Bedroom accommodation.   The design shown has chosen to keep the tie beams and struts which we consider are important to the character of the building.   The height at which they occur does not enable a double storey height underneath them, so the vertical circulation has been configured to pass by them, leaving them intact and making a dramatic statement in the heart of the building around which everything unfolds.   The space below is then used as storage.   A full-height central space links both parts.

The property retains its existing scale.  There are additional elements such as the glazed rear porch and the glazed gables, but they are not dominant and are subordinate to existing ridge lines where visible at all, for they are tucked bend the planted fence/hedge and the mature tree which is just outside the boundary of the site.

A courtyard has been formed by fencing and hedging to enclose the two sides of the space between the barn and the road and the ditch.   This is a sheltered private space which contains a herb garden and a planted garden area which will eventually not be visible from the Lane.   The outer part of the plot has been left as pasture with an area behind the free-standing brick wall for parking of 1 or 2 vehicles on free-draining gravel.

Contractor: Colin Smith, Wilmington

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