Private Clients | Somerset, England

The careful restoration and repurposing of this Grade II Listed malting barn as a private gallery and residence is among the more challenging retrofit briefs we’ve faced. The functional nature of this building gives it abundant character while making it physically difficult to reuse. Its floor to ceiling heights are remarkably low – driven by the need to spread barley across their surface rather than normal considerations of human habitation. The relatively small and infrequent windows result in internal spaces lacking adequate daylighting. In effect, the building’s scale, complexity and layout make it incredibly difficult to re-purpose without significant interventions.

As a traditional 19th century agricultural building, the malt house is a pure manifestation of function. Unlike other typologies of its time that frequently celebrate craft and detail, this building is relatively unsophisticated in its utilitarian nature. From the overall layout to the smallest details and finishes, this functionality is the defining characteristic. Along these lines, as the building’s function takes a new direction as a necessary means of survival, its form must adjust as well. These adjustments are clear and practical – a continuation of the building ethos – with hard wearing materials deployed in an honest and uncomplicated manner: glass, concrete, steel and timber are interwoven into the distinctive agricultural character of the barn.

As part of a historic agricultural estate, the malting barn and its neighbouring buildings have a purposeful relationship with their surroundings. A wide range of conditions including lawn, orchard, pasture and woodland contribute to the overall character of the place and situate it well within the wider region. As a traditional farmstead, this diversity would have been the result of functional uses which has continued to be the case up to this point. The wider landscape proposal seeks to maintain this balance with sensitive interventions aimed at increasing biological diversity. These include an expanded orchard as well as a wildflower sculpture meadow accessed via footpaths that traverse the property.