Black Barn

Black Barn

Studio Bark
Suffolk, UK | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Lenny Codd
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
ShouSugi Ban CladdingExterior Solutions Ltd
TrussesAnson Timberworks
Natural InsulationBack to Earth
FlintNeedham Chalks
WindowsSpectrum Glazing

Product Spec Sheet
ShouSugi Ban Cladding
Natural Insulation

Black Barn

Studio Bark as Architects

The Black Barn is a rigorously environmental ‘paragraph 79’ family home inspired by the vernacular architecture of rural Suffolk. It reads as a floating sculptural form surrounded by wild grass meadow. The striking form evolved from environmental considerations including solar heat gain, shading and passive ventilation, establishing a dialogue with the seasonal and diurnal rhythms of the site.


The design is a modern yet sensitive interpretation of the black agricultural barn - a typology that has scattered the East Anglian countryside for centuries, and references the site’s historic context as a poultry farm. ShouSugi Ban timber cladding to the exterior and exposed structural timbers within, reference this vernacular language though a contemporary reimagining.


A simple yet effective structural logic was developed in partnership with engineers Structure Workshop, resulting in an honest and efficient solution. UK-sourced Douglas Fir scissor trusses taper upwards towards the large southern gable, create a dramatic elevated roofline and frame views to the surrounding countryside. The southern glazing at the gable end is set back enabling the building form to self-shade in the hot summer sun, while benefiting from passive solar heating in winter.


In order to take full advantage of its setting, Black Barn was conceived as a form belonging to the wider countryside. The landscaping was carefully considered to avoid any visual impact of domestic clutter with a sunken pocket garden hidden by a curved flint wall. The softness of the surrounding meadow juxtaposes the drama of the bold form, whilst respecting the defining character of the rural environment.


The lower level of the home uses a seamless flint exterior treatment with a lime based mortar. Flint was sourced from a nearby quarry and creates a meaningful tie to the geological context.


Above, the tapering form of the living spaces is clad in ShouSugi Ban (charred Western Red Cedar). This is an ancient Japanese process of charring timber as a form of preservation; a natural, non-toxic way to enhance durability.


The Scissor Trusses were made locally by Anson Timber works, fabricated from UK-sourced Douglas Fir.


Passive heating and ventilation principles, in conjunction with meticulous detailing of the building fabric, ensure that the internal environment is incredibly stable and that energy demand is low. A reduction in scale of fenestration towards the north helps to minimise heat losses.


Locally sourced timber, aggregate and flint, hugely reduce the home’s carbon footprint. The building envelope is highly insulated and draught free, using natural timber fibre insulation from ‘Back to Earth’.

A holistic energy off-grid strategy is centered around environmental technologies that are unobtrusive to family life. A solar array, bio-diesel generator with heat recovery system (mimicking a micro-CHP), battery storage, borehole water source and packaged sewage system means that the house functions completely off-grid.



Black Barn achieved planning permission under Paragraph 79 (previously 55) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in November 2015. Paragraph 79 enables a route through planning policy for those hoping to build a home in the countryside.

Project Credits
Main contractor
M&E consultant
Structural engineer
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