Tonkin Liu

Old Shed New House

‘Old Shed New House’ is a home nestled within the agricultural landscape of North Yorkshire. The client sought a high quality, energy-efficient and low-cost building to serve as a house, library and gallery.

An existing agricultural shed on the site – once a container for tools and tractors – is now a container for a lifetime collection of books and art. The steel frame and ground slab have been reused and enlarged, retaining the original form of the shed. Newly clad in varied widths of shot-blasted timber and galvanised steel fins, the rhythmic facade reads like the bark of the silver birch that characterise the site.old-shed-new-house-great-ouseburn-tonkin-liu (3)The surrounding landscape is pulled into the building’s two principle double-height volumes through large axial openings. A long gallery, orientated east-west with the site’s long tree-lined approach, draws visitors in from afar and frames the rising and setting sun from within. A tall south-facing library, bounded by mirror-backed shelving and a light-modulating canopy, evokes a forest clearing in the heart of the house.old-shed-new-house-great-ouseburn-tonkin-liu (5)Galvanised steel is used throughout the project, both internal and externally. It creates an exposed exoskeleton that holds up the cantilevering canopies and forms a minimal capping detail at the roof edge. Inside, it is used structurally to form the slender-profiled bridge and mezzanine in the gallery and library, as well as for sliding perforated flyscreens and to form shadow gap junctions throughout.old-shed-new-house-great-ouseburn-tonkin-liu (4)In addition to its robustness, galvanised steel was selected because its silvered, light-catching appearance suited the ambition to create a facade language inspired by the surrounding birch trees. Its widespread usage in agricultural structures also suited the history of the site and helps relate the new house with the old shed and the farm buildings in the locality.

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Galvanised steel is typically considered for structural applications and rarely as a characterful material finish. We hope that this project demonstrates both the aesthetic and structural qualities inherent in the material, and encourages more exploration of its potential use in this way.

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Images © Greg Storrar