Liddicoat & Goldhill

Ancient Party Barn


Shortlisted for the prestigious ​Stephen Lawrence National Architecture Award​, and winning a RIBA South East Regional Award​ (2015), the kinetic Ancient Party Barn is a playful re-working of historic agricultural buildings for residential use.

Our clients, a fashion designer and a digital designer, are avid collectors of reclaimed architectural artefacts. Together with the existing fabric of the barn, their discoveries formed the material palette. The result – part curation, part restoration – is a unique interpretation of the 18th Century threshing barn.

The design (2,295 sqft) subverts the familiar barn-conversion type, creating hermetic, introspective spaces set in open countryside. A series of industrial mechanisms fold and rotate the facades to allow for broad views of the landscape. When they are closed, they afford cosy protection and security. These high-tech, kinetic moments occur without harming the fabric and character of the existing, handmade timber structure. Liddicoat & Goldhill’s conservation specialism, combined with strong relationships with expert craftspeople and engineers lets the clients’ contemporary vision co-exist with the humble, historic barn architecture.

A steel and timber mezzanine inside the main space creates an open-plan, master bedroom and bathroom above, and a cosy living area below. The mezzanine is supported by a tapering brick chimney inspired by traditional Kentish brick ovens; a cor-ten helical staircase cantilevers from the chimney. The kitchen is a free-standing composition of furniture at the opposite end of the barn space, combining new and reclaimed furniture with custom-made steel gantries. These ledges and ladders contain storage shelves and hanging space, and create a route up through the barn timbers to a floating ‘crows nest’ sleeping platform in the roof. Within the low-rise buildings reaching south from the main barn, a series of new ragstone interior walls, like the cattle stalls they replaced, delineate a series of simple sleeping rooms for guests.

Photography: Will Scott & Keith Collie