The barn that balances!

IT’S a home that almost seems to defy gravity.

But this “Balancing Barn”, due to open in October, is just one example of a new wave of modernist architecture popping up across Suffolk.

The amazing architectural feat, designed by Dutch architects MVRDV, is the latest addition to the landscape in Thorington, near Halesworth.

The 30m-long building with stainless steel cladding is intended to be a new-age take on the traditional Suffolk barn, which sits in the middle of a nature reserve overlooking a small lake.

The barn, which will be used as a holiday home, is managed by Living Architecture, whose aim is to promote good architecture and make it available to ordinary people.


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Company director Mark Robinson said: “The site itself is on two levels – you arrive at ground level then it drops down quite steeply so the architects wanted to exploit that as much as possible, and because it’s quite a large site, they wanted to stretch the building across the site and make best use of the views and the location.

“The building is cantilevered over empty space so the structure of the building is quite complex.

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“It had to be weighed down on the land side to counterbalance the overhang.

“I think it’s quite an unusual one for Suffolk, especially as this has no support at the cantilevered end.

“I think people have been quite intrigued by it. It seems that the locals in the area and the planning authorities were very supportive of what we were doing.”

Dune House, owned by the same company but designed by Norwegian firm Jarmund/Vignaes Architects, is also due to open as a holiday home in December.

The unusual building lies near the coast, just to the south of Thorpeness.

The company’s creative director is Swiss writer and television presenter Alain de Botton. He said: “Though our houses are modern, they’re really aware of their local character.

“The Dutch architects behind the Balancing Barn spent two months studying the structure and ideas behind the traditional Suffolk barn. The Norwegian architects who did the Thorpeness House became expert in the history and ideology of Thorpeness.

“These are houses that, above everything else, are sensitive to their location. They are not spaceships dropped in from other planets, they are like plants that have grown from and deeply understand their local soil. Modern doesn’t have to mean rootless.

“Good architecture should make us feel hopeful and excited to be alive.”

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