This studio is set within the garden of the architects award winning house in the gently rolling countryside south of Kilrea, and is composed of a modestly scaled single form referencing and continuing the tradition of metal skinned agricultural sheds, barns and outbuildings which prevail throughout the local countryside. The programme required a studio space for their growing practice, which until now had occupied a dedicated but small space within their home, along with a garage and an accessible guest suite.
Sited amongst apple trees in the lower front garden, the new building takes it’s geometry from the existing house, gables perpendicular and precisely aligned, both addressing the laneway.
At first, the building appears almost impenetrable, a casually shuttered concrete base with a simple weathered cor-ten steel pitched roof and gabled form on top, the deep rust colour a familiar tone in the landscape. Access is from the laneway via a ramped perforated cor-ten gantry, slightly skewed on plan, rising from a concrete plinth to a glazed door on the gable, the gantry serving both to physically separate (the workspace from home), and to heighten the sense of arrival.
Once inside, a joyous series of bright, overlapping spaces is revealed. From the generous mid-level arrival space, housing the cellular rooms, timber stairs lead up to a third-width mezzanine, a meeting space within the open roof volume, dramatically illuminated by glazed gables (behind perforated cor-ten panels) and a linear roof light, both of which saturate the interior with daylight. Below this, and a few steps down from the arrival space, another daily meeting area overlooks the studio on the lowest level which is embedded into the lawn to work surface level, availing of both the triple height space to the roof and a large glazed opening to the south, a ‘barn door’ offering access to the lawn and a strong visual connection to the house.
These spaces are articulated by an exposed and pale stained laminated plywood portal structure, rising from the concrete base, its depth occupied by storage, open shelving and roof purlins, its setting out determined by standard plywood sizes. The structural diagram is thwarted at the garden gable, where the plywood portal is interrupted at ground level by fine solid steel posts, opening the views from the indented lower studio to the garden, allowing the heavy composition above to seemingly float above the lawn.
There is a gentle play at work here, an endearing sense of fun barely masked by the authors, of heavy steel over the robust but delicate timber interior, carefully hand made and reinforced by highly sustainable credentials.
This is a precisely crafted, confident and delightful building which provides a series of beautiful spaces for its users, engages with its site and local context, and which clearly demonstrates the ‘can-do’ attitude, enthusiasm and evident skill of its architects.