Dezeen Magazine

The Long Barn Studio by Nicolas Tye Architects

Bedfordshire office Nicolas Tye Architects set about building this new studio for themselves when the company outgrew a space in the director's home.

Called The Long Barn Studio, the building takes the form of a glass box with larch-clad ends.

The south facade features a series of 'pods', also clad in larch, that contain a library, reprographics area, toilets and meeting room.

Designed to house a team of up to twelve people, the design features Corten steel detailing and limestone flooring.

It also incorporates a wind turbine, rainwater harvesting, reed-bed sewage treatment, compost facilities and a staff vegetable garden.

The project was nominate for the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize in 2009.

See also: Office in the Woods by Selgascano (June 2009)

The following information is from Nicolas Tye Architects:

The Long Barn Studio for Nicolas Tye Architects


The Long Barn Studio is located within Mid-Bedfordshire, on the outskirts of the village of Maulden. Nicolas Tye Architects begun to out-grow an existing studio space within the director’s home (an existing barn which was converted in 2004) and the brief was to create a new-build studio space which could provide a comfortable, healthy and inspiring environment for up to a team of twelve.

One of the key design philosophies was to harmonize and complement the existing structure of the barn, the ‘farm-stead’ and arable environment within which it sits. The existing barn (which is only 20m away and also incorporates a contemporary architectural approach) provided the main planning constraint and it was essential that the new studio (both in scale and materiality) did not detract from this historic existing structure. In addition, part of the new structure would also partly sit outside of the building curtilage in the previous use set-a-side arable farmland.

After various pre-application supportive discussions with the local councillors, parish council and neighbours, the local planning authority, aided by the advice of a planning consultant, unanimously approved the design at planning committee.

The studio itself is set down within the surrounding open landscape, and the subtle materials which are used in a simple way reflect the local harmony. The concept of the design is based around an elegant glass, rectilinear box (which compliments the existing linear lines of the adjacent barn), which is enclosed at both ends with larch clad ‘book-ends’. The Larch is treated so weathering appears uniformed both externally and internally creating seamless visual lines. The ‘frame-less’ glass panels allow high levels of natural daylight into the studio along the northern side and allow wide views of the surrounding landscape to become integrated into the studio environment. Along the southern elevation larch clad timber pods also punctuate the glass facades, which remove issues with overheating. Each pod has a dedicated use including an Architectural Library, reprographics area, toilets and meeting room. Cor-ten steel detailing is also used throughout the studio to reflect the original agricultural nature of the site and accentuates the smaller picture windows and linear roof line. Within the studio’s interior a continuous limestone floor enhances the main axis, and the space is broken up through a series of wenge ‘pods’ which contain ancillary elements including the kitchen, storage containing a materials and document library, and individual staff storage.

All external walls are built from 200mm solid block work, externally insulated and clad in larch, all the internal walls are blockwork. This principle of thermal mass prevents the studio from rapidly heating up and cooling down. The building far exceeds the various building regulation requirements. Various sustainable and healthy technologies are also incorporated, including a wind turbine, rainwater harvesting, reed bed sewage, compost facilities, staff vegetable garden, low energy centrally controlled lighting and underfloor heating system throughout, eco/ organic paint, a central vacuum and a combined heat exchange air source heat pump supplying natural fresh air.

Planning negotiations started in early 2006, construction started in Autumn 2006 and was completed by Autumn 2007. Once onsite the construction was kept to programme due to the rapid expansion of the practice and an urgent requirement for more space. The small budget, just under £1000m2, meant consideration to details and materials was essential. A sedum roof and ground heat recovery system was desired but regrettably not within this budget.

The Long Barn Studio provides a vital innovative hub for 12 aspiring architects and assistant architects in a inspiring young, multi-cultural inclusive environment.

Inclusive Design

The Long Barn Studio for Nicolas Tye Architects

The building in itself is diverse in its architectural style for this area of Bedfordshire and this carries through into the diverse mix of staff who are employed. The space is both appealing to adults and children, who enjoy the freedom of the internal and surrounding external spaces.

The studio meets the current regulation under part M of the building regulations, and is designed to enable clients (and staff) to successfully use all the facilities. This includes a generous disabled WC facility with colour differentiated door markings. A hard surfaced external setting down point with level entrance threshold. The internal plan is easily navigable with wide, designated access spaces within the open plan environment.

The studio has a purpose built kitchen to encourage staff to cater their own lunches, thus reducing off site travel at lunchtime and car usage. Full use of the outdoor environment is encourage with outdoor seating area, staff vegetable patch (to provide fresh food for the kitchen and flowers for reception) compost and water harvesting for vegetable patch. Within the studio we have a wide ranging recycling policy, incorporating composting and utilizing our old print outs as notepads. We also have a staff panic alarm and buddy system for leaving/ ensuring people are safe on the site.

Key consultants and suppliers

The Long Barn Studio for Nicolas Tye Architects
Structural Engineer
Akera Engineers
Planning Consultant
Phillips Planning Services
Photography : Philip Bier
Lighting : Modular Lighting Instruments
Roofing sub-contractor : Peters Roofing contractors Ltd,
Rooflight Glazing : Glazing Fabrications Specialists Ltd,
Heating Contractor : Multibeton Ltd,