Berners Yard

Conversion of dilapidated farmyard barns into 6 bespoke homes orientated around a central courtyard

The scheme at Berners Yard enjoys a bucolic setting on the Stour peninsula in rural Suffolk, with views stretching far across the surrounding farmland and woods. Considered a heritage asset, the original barns were hidden in a series of extensions and were in a dilapidated state. Working with an award winning developer our brief was to maximise the asset and provide unique and crafted homes. Our role included supporting the client through their first project as builder as well as developer.

Careful removal of some existing elements clarified the original buildings and created a spacious shared courtyard around which the houses now sit, providing public and private gardens and legible individual front doors. We sought to create a harmonious combination of contemporary design with a strong grounding in the local vernacular. Utilising only a palette of external materials that previously existed on the farm site, the scheme has remained true to its functional origins whilst emerging as a distinctive grouping of contemporary homes.

Internally, expansive, open plan spaces featuring double height living accommodation help accentuate the sense of space and volume. Large, glazed openings provide comprehensive daylight and delightful views across the surrounding landscape, without overlooking neighbouring properties. Original timbers of the existing timber frame are retained throughout, and feature as a skeletal form that cuts through new window openings and the crisp white plaster walls providing a refreshing juxtaposition of the old and new and maintaining the performance of the external envelope. Oak clad pods containing bookcases and storage are used to break up main spaces without compromising the barn like sense of scale.

Emphasis was put on retaining and recycling materials from the original structure to reduce the embodied carbon of the conversion works. Where possible additions used recycled materials from the site, including bricks and the original grain silos from the farm have been retained as garden stores. Locating living spaces and large openings on the south and southwest elevations increases the solar gain in winter months. All houses use renewable heat sources. Air Source Heat Pumps, along with underfloor heating and internal floor finishes provide a stable internal environment, with efficient wood burners as an alternative heat source in winter cold snaps.

Client: Nest Development

Structural Engineer: Gina Turner, Steria Consulting (formerly The Morton Partnership)

Landscape Architect: Studio Cullis

Contractor: Nest Construction


Photographs by Alex Sarginson