Following our previous successful Class Q (permitted development) consent for the conversion of an existing barn to residential use, West Waddy have subsequently designed a replacement dwelling on the same site, which seeks to provide a higher quality home with a significantly better energy performance than a conversion approach could achieve.
Though there is presently a strong push within the industry for refurbishment over replacement on the grounds of sustainability and conservation of embodied energy, each project must be considered on it’s own merits. A major proponent of the ‘Class Q’ methodology, is the retention of the existing structural frame. As the barn structure is designed for relatively lightweight cladding and not for a fully lined and insulated residential spec building envelope – the existing structure would need to be significantly added to. In effect, the existing structure (except where kept exposed for aesthetic purposes) would be buried in the new construction, introducing detailing issues that compromise the thermal continuity of the building envelope. This issue of thermal conductivity is more pronounced in steel-framed structures than in timber frame barns for instance, however exposing timber framing for aesthetic gain, is offset by difficulties in achieving high levels of airtightness. Both of these issues are significant obstacles to achieving ultra-low energy homes through conversion of agricultural buildings.
A fresh start in this instance, is an opportunity to create a purpose-built passivhaus-standard home, with ultra-high levels of insulation and airtightness. One of the simplest passivhaus principles which can be followed by replacing the barn, is optimising the building orientation – if the building volume is orientated predominantly East-West, then roof pitches are optimised for solar panels, and windows can be oriented North to control solar gain and overheating. In terms of re-use, the steel in the barn can be recycled, and the profiled concrete cladding is at the end of it’s design life and due to be replaced in the next few years. The concrete and blockwork comprising the slab and lower walls can be used for hardcore in the construction of the acoustic gabion wall, so very little if any material would need be taken off-site, reducing the associated carbon output of moving the material by lorry.
The case for creating a purpose built replacement dwelling in this instance, is not just related to energy performance. There is an opportunity to work with the existing topography by building the home into the ground, and reducing the overall ridge height by 1.2m. Presently, the site is exposed, with a prevailing wind carrying noise pollution from the motorway to the South. By creating a landscape and acoustic barrier using a mixture of boundary planting and a feature gabion wall, a quiet courtyard sanctuary is created which has the added benefit of obscuring artificial light which may be seen from the nearby village to the South.
West Waddy are excited to promote this high quality and bespoke design, which is contextually driven and unique. The design is integrated into the landscape to frame and take advantage of views over the countryside beyond, whilst also considered and controlled in terms of it’s own impact from views toward the site. The ‘flanks’ of the North elevation are partially built into the ground, and a ‘landscape strip’, integral to the design of the building, ensures that the first and second floor are visually ‘split’ by plants growing along the entire length of the building.
The formality of the cruciform shape creates axis through the building, linking internal and external features to views beyond. The plan-form is a blend of formal and organic, and the detailing is a fusion of rural materials and contemporary composition suited to the site. The floor area is equal to the ‘existing’ class Q scheme floor area, whilst in volume terms the proposal is 10% smaller. Our planners and architects have worked together to promote a stunning design, supported by a compelling planning argument based on a proven planning methodology to achieve an ambitious outcome for our client.
A purpose built and thoughtfully designed replacement dwelling on this site will deliver a home of much higher quality and longevity, when compared to the Class Q scheme that proceeded it. Commercial advise relating to the project viability has been sought through Strutt & Parker. West Waddy have undertaken many successful barn conversion projects, take a look at Oak House Barns, and Hopkins Yard as exceptional examples of completed conversions.