Balancing Barn

MVRDV, Suffolk, 2010


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The gable end of the Balancing Barn 

Edmund Sumner (website)     Download Original

  • The gable end of the Balancing Barn    
  • The Balancing Barn    
  • The Balancing Barn viewed from its approach    
  • The front elevation of the Balancing Barn    
  • The cantilever and reflective metal cladding    
  • The rigid structure of the barn makes the cantilever possible, viewed from the lawn    
  • The barn    
  • A swing is attached to the bottom of a cantilever    
  • The kitchen and dining area    
  • The interior viewed from one of the entry/exit gantries    
  • The living room viewed from the interior    
  • The ground floor    
  • The roof plan    
  • Long section    
  • Cross section    
  • South facade    
  • East facade    
  • North facade    
  • The wall door section    
  • The floor glazing    

Holiday home for rent as part of the Living Architecture scheme

The barn is 30m long, and half of it 'balances' off the natural ampitheatre-like setting. The 15m cantilever is made possible by the building's rigid structure: its central core is concrete and the cellar's materials were selected to act as a counterweight. Diagonal interior struts also support the cantilever.

The Balancing Barn's project brief was directed by the requirements of Alain de Botton's 'Living Architecture' scheme: that contemporary architecture needs to be provocative enough for people to appreciate its value.

The shape and materials are inspired by buildings in the local area. The barn is clad in reflective metal sheeting, and set up with galvanised steel cladding. The roof features a stainless steel chimney, cowl hat, and rooflights.

The interior maintains the barn-like style. Its exposed rafters in the open ceiling resemble a hammerbeam roof. The open-plan living room sits aloft over the lawn below, a point emphasised by a 5.8m2 glass floor.

The barn is naturally lit throughout, by the full height sliding windows, rooflights, and a large painting window at the back end.

The building is also energy efficient and features a ground source heat pump.


  • Begun: Jun 2009
  • Completed: Oct 2010
  • Floor area: 220m2
  • Sector: House
  • Procurement: JCT Standard Building Contract 2005
  • Address: The Balancing Barn, Thorington, Suffolk, IP19 9JG, United Kingdom

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