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Tucked away in the country side town of Breda, the Netherlands, sits a renovated old ‘flemish barn’ converted into an office. Developed by dutch firm Arend Groenewegen Architect, the structure takes the ingredients of the original architecture form which consists of the wooden construction, low black facade and large thatched roof; and transforms it into a functioning work space. When the owner decided to stop his livestock business, the use of the existing barn built in the 1800, originally used for storage of hay and equipment needed a new vision. The renovation of the structure was in breach of the applicable zoning where the plot was designated as an ‘agricultural building block. The municipality changed the purpose of the area allowing an office to function in the space.
The program focused on the interior design where providing light, air and room to the inner core was the focus. Shutters open up to filter natural sunlight into the 280m ² rental space where a cube was constructed to provide program requirements such as fresh air, toilets and storage. Heating is CO2 controlled. The large posts correspond to the original size of the barn which has been expanded with a glass facade around the perimeter.
The Flemish barn was built around 1800. Located next to a monumental farm and visible from the intersection in front it is a marked object. The building was used for storing hay and equipment and was completely in original condition, but poorly maintained. A rare screech owl had nested in the barn for years. Partly at the request of the municipality of Breda started the design process. In an early stage there was an agreement on conversion of the barn to an office.
The goal was to enhance the quality and character of the countryside at a location where urban expansion is planned. And, while retaining the original character, transforming an old barn into an office space that meets the requirements of today.
The task was to realize 280m2 of office space that can be rented to a company, equipped with toilets, pantry, and include quality heating and mechanical ventilation.
The essence of the task was to bring inside light, air and space and from the outside preserve the characteristics of a typical Flemish barn, like the closeness of the low facade of black weatherboarding and a large thatched roof. The old function of a ‘drive-through barn’ made on both short sides big high doors needed. There, the roof slopes gently upwards from which the highly recognizable shape is determined. The introduction of sufficient daylight was an important requirement.
The new office will feature completely different preconditions for the property than before. This provides interesting solutions, where future value and the quality of old times goes hand in hand.
To provide the new program with sufficient daylight an integrated solution for all facades is designed. The authentic black weatherboarding of the façade opens up, and they become louvers. This brise soleil façade brings nice filtered light inside.
The louvers are fixed, the position is determined with computer based sun study. In wintertime the almost horizontal light can come in, in summertime the louvers work like blinds.
By placing an organizing element in the interior, a wooden cube, a solution was found for various programmatic requirements, such as facilities, pantry and washroom .The wooden construction of the barn is preserved as much as possible. At all the wooden beams there were marks and numbers found from the original construction period. It was made as a kit that has been assembled. The foundation, flooring, cladding and roof package are renewed. In the interior the unity of the space is important. The overview of the truss work, roof rails and facades indicates the quality of the barn at a glance. It was decided to use elements in the interior that connect as little as possible to the facade and roof to minimize a break of that quality.
The new program gives future prospects to the property. The space is designed multifunctional. This allows future users to transform the barn again. The introduction of good daylight increases the usability and therefore the durability in use for the future enormously. Due to the current energy and environmental requirements, there is a sustainable basis for the property to be used for a long time. A CO2 demand driven ventilation system is very conscious of heat losses. The authentic raw black tarred weatherboarding is now conducted in thermally preserved pine wood with black oil. With modern sustainable use of materials, the authentic look is reinvented. Even the screech owl has got a new home in ridge of the roof, with his own entrance from outside.
The Flemish barn has improved the sight of the hamlet the Bolberg. The location next to a monumental farm enhances the quality of all the various volumes.
After studying the existing premises, all the valuable attributes are appointed. The characteristic shape of the roof and the wooden construction are of great value for a Flemish barn. Traditional woodworking techniques were used to restore wooden parts. The main structure is broadly maintained. The footings of traditional little yellow ‘ijsselmeer’stones are completely renewed, bearing on a new foundation. The position of the wooden posts in the facade construction correspond to the original size, the new situation is filled with glass and wooden slats.
The property has a positive value development undergone by the transformation of the old barn “to” office space in historic building “. A realistic economic support under the project was one of the conditions for the transformation of the Flemish barn to go. The property would be leased commercially partly to investments covered to get. Shortly after the start of construction is a tenant found.
To provide sufficient daylight to win a slat wall light is applied to the inside and outside of a closed character. To the presence of visible installations to a minimum is sought various integrated solutions. Design principle was inside the walls and the roof as much as possible free from functional interior elements. There is in the interior an organizing element in the form of a detached wooden cube placed where ventilation, toilets, pantry, cloakroom and office are located. The ventilation in the building is controlled by a CO2 demand-driven system. Underfloor heating keeps the room free of radiators.