Liddicoat & Goldhill transforms an 18th-century barn into an English countryside home

| 3 comments

London studio Liddicoat & Goldhill has remodelled a derelict barn in Kent, England, to create a home featuring mechanically operated doors and a staircase that wraps around a chimney (+ movie).

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England
Photograph by Will Scott

Named Ancient Party Barn, the house comprises a cluster of 18th-century buildings that once functioned as a threshing barn, dairy and stables for a farm in rural Folkestone.

Photograph by Will Scott

Architects David Liddicoat and Sophie Goldhill were tasked with transforming the buildings into a home for a couple who are avid collectors of architectural artefacts, and who were looking for a retreat from the city.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

"Rather than demand specific spaces or programmes, their brief focused on materiality and atmosphere, and on creative re-use of the existing volumes," explained Liddicoat.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

"Our task was to combine the quality of the surviving barn fragments with the texture and tone of their found materials," he said.



The structures were in a fairly dilapidated condition, so their original green oak frames has to be dismantled and repaired offsite.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

In one of the smaller blocks it was simply reinstalled, but in the main barn some elements had to be replaced with steel beams – although these are disguised behind structurally insulated panels, all fronted by wood.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

One of the biggest interventions was the addition of numerous mechanically operated openings, allowing the building to be either securely closed off, or opened up to take advantage of countryside views.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

These include large shutters intended to evoke the original barn doors, which front an open space at the centre of the barn.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

One the other side of this space is another set of doors, concealing a large rotating window operated by an adapted chain lift. Elsewhere, the architects have added an "aircraft-hangar door" that concertinas upwards to create a canopy for a terrace.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

"To maintain the barn's brooding presence – and to provide security and a sense of protection from rolling Channel mists – the barn is usually kept in a closed state," said Liddicoat.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

"However, industrial-scale kinetic mechanisms create openings that address key views into the countryside," he added.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

The dining space and kitchen are both housed on one side of the barn. This lofty space features a mix of traditional furniture elements and bespoke plywood fittings.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

The main living room is on the opposite side. Here, a tapered brick chimney integrates both a fireplace and a steel staircase, which leads up to a newly created mezzanine bedroom and bathroom above.

"The materials were chosen for their tactility – we love the inviting warmth of the brick and metal, and the way the light changes their character through the day," Liddicoat told Dezeen

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

Additional bedrooms are located in the buildings to the rear of the site, along with a guest kitchen and living space.

The Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England

Low-energy lighting has been added throughout the property, as well as a digital heat, light and security system that allow the building to be controlled remotely. This suits the clients, as one of them is a frequent traveller.

ancient-party-barn-liddicoat-goldhill-architecture-house-conversion-kent-england-will-scott_dezeen_936_1
Photograph by Will Scott

Liddicoat & Goldhill has a studio in Dalston, east London. The partners previously designed their own black-brick home in London, while other projects include a garden cabin and a house extension with an oak-screened staircase.

Photography is by Keith Collie, unless otherwise stated.


Project credits:

Architect: David Liddicoat, Liddicoat & Goldhill LLP
Main contractor: Virgil Petraitis
Clients: John Sinclair and Deborah Harvey
Structural engineering: Fluid Structures

Perspective of the Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England
Perspective – click for larger image
Plan of the Ancient Party Barn by Liddicoat & Goldhill in Kent, England
Plan – click for larger image
  • Bill Simpson

    Do you really walk through two bedrooms and a shower-room to get to the study at the end of the plan?

    • Concerned Citizen

      Unless you go outside.

  • Architects Anonymous

    That is one of the most beautiful spiral staircases I have seen in a while.