A classic barn & dovecote reborn as a wonderful library

JCA Team:
Director: Chris Lawler
Senior Arcitect: Nigel Hammett
Architects: Claire Smith
Cristopher Crnigoj
Project Design Team:
Quantity Surveyor:
MEA Consultants
Structural Engineer:
Stand Consulting Engineers
Trust Build
Timber framing:
Project type:
Barn conversion
Project year: 2022
Photographer: William Pearce
External link: williamjpearce.com

Take a modern sleek bridge , a Victorian pumping station or a medieval barn and its materials define its construction and final form. There's something satisfying about the honest and unpretentious composition. 

As an architectural practice, we see our role as not just to repurpose for today's needs, but also to avoid unnecessary trampling on the past.

This Oxfordshire barn and dovecote is a case in point.

Built from local Costwold stone and oak timbers it had a glorious solidity and weathered patina that made it so attractive. But as the owners didn't and were never likely to collect dove's eggs or store hay, it was just a redundant but attractive talking point.

The temptation for some architects and clients is to see an old building as a legacy from the past that with some knocking about could be made to fit today's needs.

The trouble with this approach is that something that has existed for perhaps hundreds of years now becomes subject to the vagaries of fashion. Fashion tends not to last decades, let alone centuries.

Our approach is to understand what makes a building attractive, interesting and often unique and dovetail it to its new purpose. In this case it meant replacing the totally rotted roofing timber with a new oak construction using traditional methods with curves, pegs and stone bases rather than steel, bolts and concrete.

The result is a building that brilliantly fits its new library purpose, brings out the original unpretentious but glorious construction and perhaps becomes even more of a talking point and should bypass the fashions of the next few centuries.