There were three main aspects of the brief specified by the clients - creating a new and specifically designed timber workshop, converting the existing traditional barn into studios for local creative enterprises and artist residencies, and replacing the farmhouse to provide a contemporary family home.
Located in the countryside in the south-west English county of Cornwall, the Argal Home Farm is an exceptional example of a young and energetic creative business focused in a rural zone.
As the client is a furniture maker who specialises with timber, the choice to use natural timbers as the principal material was the foremost design decision.
The Argal Farm building forms part of a wider cultural masterplan underway in Cornwall that include converting an existing stone barn into a co-working space for local creative businesses, a replacement farmhouse in Cornish granite, and a landscaped kitchen garden and orchard to tie it all together. The timber workshop is central to the new masterplan, and sits opposite the creative studios. The workshop form strongly references traditional stables, but with subtle modernities, like the deep set entrance.
The work shop achieved an A+ rating in the UK energy rating system - EPC. This was managed by combining a low energy building envelope, a biomass boiler system for heating, and on site energy generation via photovoltaics. This has led to the structure approaching ‘net zero energy’ generation.
Energy and sustainability measures include
- A highly insulated glulam wood structure
- Sustainably sourced European larch timber
- Low air permeability (3m³/m²h)
- Double glazed windows and rooflights
- Thermal bridge-free design
- Highly insulated reinforced concrete slab
- Natural ventilation & high-spec dust extract ventilation
The furniture maker client balances both traditional tools and emerging technology in his craft. The architecture of the new workspace reflects this timber craft through its use of traditional and modern engineered timber.
Timber is used in its different forms throughout the structure, with an engineered glulam structure made from laminated boards of pine. The glulam proudly expresses its joinery, while larch clads the exterior and plywood lines the internal spaces.
Glulam frames run in a smooth rhythm from the workshop floor to the roof ridge. The engineered timber was necessary to achieve the large uninterrupted spans across the workshop area, whilst still allowing the form to be conveyed. The new building houses a full timber workshop facility combining traditional wood-working machinery and hand tools, with a 5-axis CNC milling machine.
The larch cladding will silver gently over the course of the buildings life, as the architecture subtly sinks into the landscape. Larch is a popular hard wearing plantation grown cladding in European architecture. It is highly durable in ground, and resistant to water and fungus.
The roof form references classic agricultural forms of the region, and nestles neatly within the greater architectural palette of Cornwall.
Skylights dot the roofline of the structure and allow more natural light to bathe the interior spaces.
The use of timber provides a welcome sense of warmth to the elevations and interiors- an aesthetic difficult to achieve without natural materials. The act of making is conveyed architecturally through the use of raw materials and exposed joinery, and becomes a study of its making.