Strawbale Workshops

Grain Architecture, Suffolk, 2019



Photography by Sebastian Laan Lomas & Jeffrey Hart     Download Original

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Set within the Suffolk Coast and Heath AONB, the straw bale workshops are a redevelopment of a dilapidated cowshed building within the grounds of a rural farmhouse.

The owners moved to the property in 2012 and needed a space to carry out their pottery and jewellery work, as well as storage for garden machinery.

The new simple and honest building houses two workshops, linked by a covered outdoor dining area, and beyond is a wood store, machinery store and kiln room. The whole building is 32m long by 5.2m wide, vertically clad in natural larch and roofed in a corrugated metal, fitting for the agricultural vernacular of the area.

The outdoor dining space with views through from orchard to field, has Mediterranean-inspired orange lime rendered walls, a reclaimed red brick floor, roundwood timber frame and a polycarbonate roof, filling the space with natural light.

The workshops are built on compacted rubble trench foundations with limecrete, brick plinth walls with slate DPC, recycled glass insulation under a rammed earth floor, timber frame walls with infill straw bale insulation, internal clay plaster, external lime render and cladding, and sheep’s wool and rigid wood fibre board insulation in the roof, creating a high performing thermal envelope.

Grain Architecture specialise in the use of natural materials, which make up the bulk of the building, ensuring low embodied energy, while high-energy materials (like plastics, metals and concrete) are only used where necessary. The significant use of plant-based materials means that CO2 is sequestered and stored within the building, which will only be released at the end of the building’s life, when most materials can be composted, if not reused. Hartwyn delivered a beautiful and efficient building with handcrafted natural materials that bring joy to the occupants.

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was not provided.


  • Begun: Jun 2019
  • Completed: Oct 2019
  • Floor area: 44m2
  • Sector: Office
  • Total cost: £173,983
  • Funding: private
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works 2016
  • Address: Wangford, Suffolk, IP18, United Kingdom

Professional Team