Location Spotlight: The Chicken Shed - A Truly Unique Transformation

Sophie Hitchens Thursday 01st September 2016 0 Comments

Many of our Light Locations have undergone transformations on their journeys to becoming the stunning properties they are today. Some of these locations go through more of a monumental change than others and one such property nestles in the Trellech plateau in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

As you drive past a beautifully scenic spot in the Monmouthshire countryside a stunning red cedar, glass and stainless steel structure comes into view, a chicken shed is most likely not what comes to mind. Wind the clock back a decade though and a chicken shed is exactly what you would have encountered.

Sue and Nick Peacock had moved to Monmouthshire in 2008 and for several years they drove past a dilapidated barn on their work route to Monmouth. They loved the peaceful area which is laden with woodland walks and when they saw that the chicken shed was up for auction and that there were plans for a holiday let conversion they seized the opportunity.

In its former life the buildings had been used to rear young poultry, but once their agricultural role ceased, they ran into disrepair and sat abandoned for several decades. There had been two sheds and whilst one had fallen down completely, there was enough structural integrity in the main barn to enable the architects Hall & Bednarczyk to argue that the building was capable of conversion.

There was quite a lot of opposition to the idea that the old wooden shed could become a residential building and the planning committee only approved the application by one vote. The architects secured the approval by demonstrating that its agricultural identity could be convincingly retained in a contemporary form. It therefore became central to the scheme to try to retain the agricultural feel of the building, whilst refining it through the choice of materials such as polished concrete and glulam.

What was clear was that it needed foundations (there were none), a new floor (there was just a dirt floor), new cladding, a new roof and the existing structure required full reinforcement. The structural reinforcement took the shape of a new glulam frame and agricultural integrity was addressed with the use of a corrugated sheeting roof and timber clad walls. The timber cladding was carried through to the internal design, which was complimented with the adoption of polished concrete floors to further enhance agricultural authenticity whilst introducing contemporary elegance and sophistication. Further design features were added which combined practicality with a homage to the building’s history such as the little glass house in the roof, which floods light into the hallway whilst echoing the shape of the old ventilation shaft.

The result of two years of intense activity is a versatile and space-efficient living space which not only pays homage to its agricultural past but which embraces the modern demands for light. Thanks to the glass house in the roof, the generous use of windows, largely white interior and polished floor, sunlight is forced to bounce from surface to surface, creating a sublime connection to nature enhanced further by its stunning countryside views.  The ethos of the project was recognized when it was shortlisted for the National Eisteddfod Gold Medal for Architecture, a prestigious accolade to projects that demonstrate unwavering conviction to deliver its objective rationally and beautifully, from concept through to final detail. 

This amazing abundance of light and textural architectural features make it a truly unique and versatile photo shoot location that has come through a monumental transformation brighter, lighter and stronger.