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Homestead house. Drawing on tradition, the house is designed by NA NO WO Architects.

02 of March '21

Abandoned farm buildings located in one of the Lower Silesian villages, which is covered by a conservation zone, enchanted a couple of investors looking for peace and closeness to nature to such an extent that they decided to live in one of the preserved pre-war barns. They commissioned an adaptation and expansion project from architects from the NA NO WO studio in Wroclaw.

The large plot of land preserved the pre-war barns and the ruins of the apartment building. Unfortunately, due to their condition, despite the original attempts to adapt one of the buildings, by the decision of the investors, the architects developed a project of demolition and reconstruction (using preserved materials) of the future house referring to the original body of the barn.

Creating the layout of the establishment on the plan of the letter "U", the architects modeled themselves on traditional rural homestead buildings, in which buildings surround the entrance courtyard on three sides. The reconstructed barn will be expanded with three buildings - the first of which, being an extension of the main building, will house the main entrance area, garage and auxiliary rooms, while the next, located perpendicularly, will house the owners' bedroom area and private zone. The entrance courtyard will close a detached garage with a shed and a workshop, consistent with the layout. Thebuildings adjacent to the residential building will be connected to it with low, glazed connectors, which, according to the project's authors, are reminiscent of thecharacteristic historic gates of rural farm buildings, set opposite each other and often left open.

zabudowa zagrodowa

homestead buildings

© NA NO WO Architects

Ola Kloc
: What was the priority for investors?

Rafał Tamowicz: The investors were looking for a place not far from Wrocław, which would provide them with a quiet life in a slower pace and in a strong connection with the surrounding nature. The future house was to have, above all, a spacious living area for family and social gatherings. For this, the high space of the old barn was perfectly suited. The main guideline in creating the functional layout was to define space for a three-meter feasting table and at least a four-meter Christmas tree. In addition, the new house for the investors is to be a place for relaxation and the pursuit of hobbies, hence the project had to include space for a handicraft and tailoring studio, as well as an additional detached garage with a workshop and a shed for the realization of the owner's automotive passions.

rzut parteru

first floor plan

© NA NO WO Architects

: Originally, the project included the expansion and adaptation of a pre-war barn for residential functions, but the technical condition of the building and other factors influenced the decision to demolish and rebuild the building using partially preserved building materials. What is your design process like when it comes to working with an existing building? How many changes do you plan to make to the rebuilt barn and what do they entail?

Rafal: The first stage is an inventory of the object using 3D laser scanning. It allows us to accurately map the geometry of the historic building. Then we develop a concept for the functional layout that responds to the investor's needs. Already knowing the outline of the future investment, together with designers we analyze the object in terms of the technical feasibility of the project. Working on historical objects, both in terms of design and execution, is a major challenge. This is because it is often necessary to verify the adopted design assumptions, and despite detailed recognition, the building can surprise at each stage.

The barn under reconstruction will be a reproduction of the old building in terms of dimensions and proportions. The most characteristic elements of the old building such as the trusses of the roof trusses, the roofing of the roof with a corrugated plain tile laid in a crown, the irregular arrangement of window and door openings on the side of the courtyard will be recreated. Demolition bricks will be used to finish the walls on the inside, and we plan to reuse the old wooden beams after dismantling the trusses as the bare floor ceiling structure. Elements such as the old wooden gates to the outcropping with the characteristic heart cut into the boards and the granite stone troughs, which will serve as washbasins in their second life, are also to be renovated and reused.

wizualizacja premisewizualizacja premisewizualizacja premise

visualization of the premise

© NA NO WO Architects

The reconstruction of the barn will allow for a new location of the barn in relation to the border with the neighboring plot, in accordance with current regulations, so that in the southern elevation it will be possible to design new glazing and exits to the outside. In addition, it will be possible to provide adequate thermal and moisture insulation. With the use of a heat pump and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, the new barn will provide contemporary utility standards.

: In designing the spatial layout, you have referred to the village's characteristic way of developing the plot, and the planned new buildings refer to traditional architecture. However, the whole gives an elegant and minimalist effect. What modern solutions did you smuggle into this project?

Rafal: Each time dealing with a historical fabric, we try to design with respect for the context of the place, but at the same time contrast the new buildings with the historical ones.

In this case, we applied the clear principle of negativity in the use of facade materials. The barn building, in accordance with its original appearance, will be plastered white, but the two new wings, which are extensions, will receive brick elevations. In addition, the separation between the barn and the new buildings will be emphasized by glazed one-story connectors. In this way, the barn's massing will be exposed and highlighted as superior.

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visualization, view from the side of the garage

© NA NO WO Architects

The seemingly identical roofing will also differ. The barn will use a corrugated plain tile laid in a crown, in accordance with the original, but the roofs of the new buildings, although finished with tile of identical color, will get a modern character thanks to its rectangular and flat shape. The drainage of the barn roof will be provided by traditional galvanized gutters and downpipes, while the new wings of the extension will use gutters in an eaveless system partially hidden in the facade. This will give the blocks a minimalist character. Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, meanwhile, will make it possible to reduce the number of chimneys, which will also contribute to the simplicity and lightness of the new blocks. Covering most of the glazing from the side of the courtyard with openwork bricks will, on the one hand, allow to achieve a minimalist character of the blocks and relate in appearance to the outbuildings, while on the other hand, it will provide privacy for the residents, limiting access to the rooms of the private zone from the side of the courtyard and driveway.

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interior of the house

© NA NO WO Architects

: What was the most difficult part of this project, and what are you most satisfied with?

Rafal: The most difficult thing turned out to be what we didn't expect, namely the need to come to terms with the investors' decision to demolish the existing barn.

On the other hand, it is gratifying that the concept was created at a stage when it was still assumed that the old building would be adapted. It was so to the liking of the investors that they decided to implement it after all. Instead of adaptation, there will be reconstruction, but we hope to recreate the character and atmosphere of the building, and the homestead layout of the whole establishment will fit into the structure of the historic village.

Ola: Thank you for the interview!

Ola Kloc

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