What was once a run-down shed, a container for tools and tractors, has been transformed by architect Tonkin Liu into a new house, now a container for a lifetime collection of books and
What was once a run-down shed, a container for tools and tractors, has been transformed by architect Tonkin Liu into a new house, now a container for a lifetime collection of books and art.
In its basic shape and cladding, the house echoes the original shed. The original steel portal frame has been reused and extended, infilled with a new timber frame and, like the original shed, clad with timber boards. The new house is energy-efficient and built to a tight budget, with a quality of design for which it has won many awards.
The client, the parents of Greg Storrar, project architect at Tonkin Liu, wanted to build a house in a quiet rural area where they could spend their retirement. They found the site, which once formed the rear part of a large garden, in the small village of Great Ouseburn (between York and Harrogate). Road access is from the rear of the site, where a track lined with birch trees leads the way to the house, which looks out to mature trees, an ancient pond, and views of farmland.
The orientation of the old shed has been retained, with the main entrance facing east and the wide gable wall facing south. As well as the usual living spaces – living room, kitchen/dining, bedrooms – the client had two particular requirements; a space to exhibit their collection of art, and a large library to store their book collection. The art has been accommodated in a long, double height gallery which runs right through the building from the main entrance at the east, where it aligns with the entrance approach, to the kitchen/dining room on the west. The books are housed in a library, also a doubleheight space, set at the centre of the southfacing gable wall, with the open plan living room and an accessible en-suite bedroom at either side.
The library walls are lined with mirror-backed book-shelves which rise to the roof, while the south wall is glazed, with sunlight modulated by an external canopy. On the first floor are two more en-suite bedrooms, linked by a lightweight bridge which spans over the library and leads to the staircase. This staircase, together with utility room and storage spaces, are concealed behind a thick wall running along the north side of the long gallery. The result is a set of interconnected spaces, some small, some double-height, which create a sense of volume and light in a compact plan.