If you're looking for an unusual place to stay during your next vacation, you ought to consider the Balancing Barn, a piece of unique architecture outfitted with modern interiors and luxurious amenities that sleeps up to 8 people.
The Balancing Barn, designed by MVRDV, is situated on a beautiful site by a small lake in the English countryside near Thorington in Suffolk. The Barn responds through its architecture and engineering to the site condition and natural setting. The traditional barn shape and reflective metal sheeting take their references from the local building vernacular.
In this sense the Balancing Barn aims to live up to its educational goal in re-evaluating the countryside and making modern architecture accessible. Additionally, it is both a restful and exciting holiday home. Furnished to a high standard of comfort and elegance, set in a quintessentially English landscape, it engages its temporary inhabitants in an experience.
Approaching along the 300 meter driveway, Balancing Barn looks like a small, two-person house.
It is only when visitors reach the end of the track that they suddenly experience the full length of the volume and the cantilever.
The Barn is 30 meters long, with a 15 meters cantilever over a slope, plunging the house headlong into nature. The reason for this spectacular setting is the linear experience of nature. As the site slopes, and the landscape with it, the visitor experiences nature first at ground level and ultimately at tree height.
At the midpoint the Barn starts to cantilever over the descending slope, a balancing act made possible by the rigid structure of the building, resulting in 50% of the barn being in free space.
The structure balances on a central concrete core, with the section that sits on the ground constructed from heavier materials than the cantilevered section. The long sides of the structure are well concealed by trees, offering privacy inside and around the Barn.
The exterior is covered in reflective metal sheeting, which, like the pitched roof, takes its references from the local building vernacular and reflects the surrounding nature and changing seasons.
On entering the Barn, one steps into a kitchen and a large dining room. A series of four double bedrooms follows, each with separate bathroom and toilet. In the very centre of the barn the bedroom sequence is interrupted by a hidden staircase providing access to the garden beneath. In the far, cantilevered end of the barn, there is a large living space with windows in three of its walls, floor and ceiling. The addition of a fireplace makes it possible to experience all four elements on a rainy day. Full height sliding windows and roof lights throughout the house ensure continuous views of, access to and connectivity with nature.
The interior is based on two main objectives:
- The house is an archetypical two-person home, expanded in shape and content so that it can equally comfortably accommodate eight. Two will not feel lost in the space, and a group of eight will not feel too cramped.
- A neutral, timeless timber is the backdrop for the interior, in which Studio Makkink & Bey have created a range of furnishings that reflect the design concept of the Barn.
The rooms are themed. Partly pixilated and enlarged cloud studies by John Constable and country scenes by Thomas Gainsborough are used as connecting elements between the past and contemporary Britain, as carpets, wall papers and mounted textile wall-elements. The crockery is made up of a set of English classics for two, and a modern series for a further six guests, making an endless series of combinations possible and adding the character of a private residence to the home.
The Barn is highly insulated, ventilated by a heat recovery system, warmed by a ground source heat pump, resulting in a high energy efficient building.
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Frans de Witte and Gijs Rikken
Co-Architect: Mole Architects, Cambridge, UK
Landscape Architect: The Landscape Partnership
Book The Balancing Barn:
The Balancing Barn accommodates up to 8 people:
- 4 double bedrooms, one of which can be made up as a twin room, all with ensuite facilities. Two of the bedrooms (bedrooms 1 & 2) have an in-bedroom bath as well as an ensuite bathroom.
The interior has been fitted out with great imagination by the Dutch designer Jurgen Bey. On the walls and floor coverings, paintings by Constable and Gainsborough (both local artists) have been sampled and manipulated, and in places resemble the geometry of works by Mondrian. Jurgen Bey has made some bespoke items of furniture for the house, and has put together a collection of some of the most beautiful chairs, tables, sofas and lamps by leading contemporary Dutch designers.
The following are provided for your holiday:
- Miele kitchen appliances - oven, combination microwave oven, induction hob, dishwasher, fridge, fridge freezer.
- David Mellor kitchen equipment - including DM kitchen knives, chopping boards, sieves and colanders, graters, whisks, tongs, cooking utensils, a range of DM saucepans (suitable for the induction hob), food blender, scales, mixing bowls, a rolling pin and pastry brush, glassware (tumblers, wine glasses, champagne flutes), DM cutlery (including children's cutlery), a tea pot, cafetiere and mugs.
- Miele washing machine and condenser dryer (plus an iron, ironing board and airer, but please bring detergent).
- REN skincare individual shampoo & conditioner, bath & shower gel and hand soap.
- Peter Reed high quality Egyptian cotton bed linen.
- Luxurious hand towels and bath towels.
- Luxury hypo-allergenic pillows and duvets (to ensure that everyone, including those with allergies, have a comfortable stay; but please note we do not have the storage space to also provide feather duvets and pillows).
- A few food items to get you started in the kitchen: tea bags, coffee, semi-skimmed milk, bread, salted butter and olive oil.
- Basic household items: bin bags, washing up liquid, kitchen roll, hand-wash, dishwasher tablets, foil and loo paper.
- A library of books to keep the most avid reader happy, from local travel guides, to architecture and philosophy.
- Television and DVD player. Please note that due to its location, The Balancing Barn does not have television reception. However, we have provided a television and DVD player for your use (so do bring DVDs to play).
- Wi-fi internet connection (which you can access if you bring a laptop, but please note that, due to its location and for reasons beyond our control, internet access can be intermittent).
- Underfloor heating throughout the house; plus starter fuel log (if you wish to use the fire in the living room).
Please note that no dogs are allowed :(
Book the Balancing Barn here for a vacation rental.
information and images courtesy of MVRDV and Living Architecture