Dezeen Magazine

Balancing Barn by MVRDV and Mole Architects

Dutch architects MVRDV with British practice Mole Architects have designed a cantilevered holiday home in Suffolk, UK.


The project has been commissioned by Living Architecture as part of a series of holiday homes around the UK designed by established and emerging world-class architects. The homes, which will also include designs by Peter Zumthor, Jarmund and Vigsnæs Architects, NORD and Hopkins Architects, will be available for rent.


The following text is from MVRDV followed by info about Living Architecture:


Living Architecture and MVRDV present Balancing Barn, Suffolk, England

Living Architecture and MVRDV present the design for the Balancing Barn, a cantilevered holiday home near the village of Thorington in Suffolk, England. Living Architecture, a British organization devoted to architecture as experience, has commissioned a series of outstanding holiday homes in the UK. MVRDV and co-architect Mole Architects from Cambridge will create a house sympathetic in spirit and materials to the exceptional natural site, which will be available for holiday rental from 2010.


The MVRDV project will be built on a beautiful site by a small lake in the English countryside near Thorington in Suffolk. From the road, the barn will be almost invisible; the front being only 7 metres wide, with a pitched roof, faces the long straight driveway approach, suggesting a small house with a traditional shape. The volume, however, has a length of 30 metres. At the midpoint it starts to cantilever over the descending slope; a balancing act made possible by the rigid structure of the building; resulting in 50% of the barn being in free space, and giving a wide view over the Suffolk landscape, adjacent lake and surrounding gardens. The long sides of the structure are well hidden by trees allowing privacy inside and around the barn. The exterior will be covered in a reflective material, resulting in the barn changing its exterior by reflecting the seasons.


Within the interior and closest to the driveway, is a kitchen, and large dining room. A series of four double bedrooms follows, each with separate bathroom and toilet. In the very centre of the barn, the bedroom sequence is interrupted by a hidden staircase providing access to the garden beneath. In the far, cantilevered end of the barn, a large living space is created. Throughout all the rooms, full height sliding windows, roof lights and a glass floor, give wonderful views and access into the garden and surrounding landscape, and give the visitors the opportunity to connect with nature.

The barn responds through its architecture and engineering to the site condition and natural setting. The traditional barn shape and reflective metal sheeting take their references from the local building vernacular. Completion is planned in Spring 2010, when the house will be open for letting.

Living Architecture has commissioned other houses by Peter Zumthor, Jarmund and Vigsnæs Architects, NORD and Hopkins Architects.


Here's some text about Living Architecture:

Living Architecture has asked a series of established and emerging world-class architects to build houses around the UK. The houses will be available to rent for holidays by the general public.

The inspiration for Living Architecture came from a desire for people to be able to experience what it is like to live, eat and sleep in a space designed by an outstanding architectural practice. Whilst there are examples of great modern buildings in Britain, they tend to be in places that one passes through (eg. airports, museums, offices), and the few modern houses that exist are almost all in private hands and cannot be visited. Living Architecture will start to open its houses for holiday rentals in the spring of 2010. Further information can be found at

The Living Architecture team comprises of chairman, Dickon Robinson, director, Mark Robinson and executive architect, Meredith Bowles (Mole Architects). The advisory team are Stuart Lipton, property developer, ex chairman CABE; Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash; Ambassador Alexis Lautenberg, Swiss ambassador to the UK; Michael Morris, co-director of Artangel; Alain de Botton, writer and architectural critic and Peter Rogers, director of Stanhope.

More Dezeen stories about MVRDV:



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Rødovre Skyscraper


Logroño Montecorvo Eco City


Urban Beads


Tirana Rocks


Make it Right (with other architects)


Gyre (movie)