Projects   Residential Quarterly – July 2006
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Holly Barn

Reedham. Norfolk UK
Knox Bhavan Architects

Knox Bhavan Architects designed Holly Barn to fit impeccably into the native terrain of the Broads

Photo © Dennis Gilbert / View Pictures

By Robert Such

On England’s east coast lie the Norfolk Broads, a protected area of outstanding natural beauty. The Broads consist of a crisscrossed network of 117 square miles of waterways and shallow lakes. Though they appear natural, their formation resulted from centuries of peat extraction by local people, who used the material as heating fuel during medieval times. Now tourists come here to visit museums, sail, walk nature trails, and observe bird life on the marshes.

A husband and wife with grown children discovered a dilapidated barn on the banks of the River Yare in the Broads. They asked London-based Knox Bhavan Architects to investigate converting it into a weekend retreat, where they could get away from the busy life of London. The barn’s poor state of repair, however, meant that it could not be renovated.

The architects decided to build a barnlike house instead, one whose design recalled the wooden shiplapped buildings in the area. For the exterior, they specified hard-wearing, rot-resistant Siberian larch. Suitable for a wide variety of uses, larch wood weathers to a silvery gray patina.

With a narrow rectilinear footprint of 1,780 square feet and total square footage of 3,229, the house’s overall two-story volume closely resembles that of the demolished agricultural building. The first floor accommodates an entry hall, playroom, four small guest bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Each bedroom is 118 square feet. To make the rooms feel bigger, the architects treated the doors to the bedrooms as a continuation of the corridor.

As the husband in the family suffers from chronic arthritis, the proportions of the rooms and hallways “have been very carefully detailed to accommodate the turning circle of a wheelchair,” says Knox. The walls and furniture feature rounded corners, varying in radius from 12 to 30 inches. “The mobility issue is not in your face,” continues Knox; the subtle curves become a design element that is carried throughout the residence, including elegant curves above the second-story windows, where the smooth shell of the plaster ceiling meets the low eaves.

Locating the principal rooms upstairs means that the owners enjoy panoramic views of the countryside. The dining/kitchen area, living room, study, and master bedroom are separated from each other by 7-foot-high privacy walls topped with glass that extends to the ceiling. The only fully enclosed space is a bathroom. On the south side, a 3-foot-wide oak-floor hallway runs the length of the elongated space, ending in the master bedroom.

Want the full story? Read the entire article in our July 2006 issue.
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the People

Alan & Jenny Rogers

Knox Bhavan Architects
75 Bushey Hill Road,
London SE5 8QQ

Architect of record
Mary Lou Arscott & Simon Knox

Associate architect(s)
Lucy Thomas

Brian Eckersley, Eckersley O’Callaghan

Declan Buckley, Buckley Design Associates

General contractor
Gary Hayes, Willow Builders Ltd

Dennis Gilbert / View Pictures

CAD system, project management, or other software used
Architectural details drawn in Vector Works

the Products

Structural system:
Steel Frame designed by Engineer & Drawn by Architect

Exterior cladding
- Siberian Larch shiplap boarding, supplied by Pattrick & Thompsons Ltd
- Page Stair Lane, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1LQ, UK

Rheinzink long strip sheet roofing
Anglia Lead Roofing
49 Barker Street
Tel 01603 626856

- Siberian Larch boarding, supplied by Pattrick & Thompsons Ltd
- Page Stair Lane, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1LQ, UK

Iroko sliding windows, manufactured by Riverside Joinery

Contract Glass (East Anglia) Ltd.

Wood doors:
Iroko sliding windows, manufactured by Riverside Joinery

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
MDF Wardrobe manufacture John’s Joinery

Floor and wall tile:
Freudenberg rubber floor

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