Blair Barn House in Blair, Wisconsin by Alchemy Print
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 05:57

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Blair-Barn-House-1_AlchemyThe Blair Barn House is a celebration of the straightforward utilitarian nature intrinsic to farm life. The house takes its clues from 19th century barns and updates them for a sustainable 21st century, with a goal of being modern yet acceptable, in a rural community where families have lived for generations. A locally-sawn white oak skin with few, but large, openings wraps and filters the house with barn light. Over- and under-spaces delineated by steel, custom-milled ash, rope work, stock cabinetry, and salvaged materials, fill the modest volume with barn space tempered with farmer's common sense.

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Edited by Lynda Waggoner




The Blair Barn House takes cues from classic nineteenth-century barns and updates them for the twenty-first century. Features include barn siding that allows for filtered light through a few large, strategically placed openings, a sleeping loft that creates an airy respite, and lower level bedrooms that provide cozy, down-to-earth privacy.

Two volumes- one in steel, the other in hardwood strips- have been inserted into the open, two-story “barn space” where they provide under- and over-spaces like a hayloft and granary floor. The goal was to build a modern design that is still acceptable in a rural community where families have lived for generations. The design gives a nod to farm technology and respects a farmer's common-sense approach to changing seasons and his/her respective tasks.

The Blair Barn House utilizes a geothermal heating system, passive solar/sun shading and the strategic placement of windows for reduced heat loss. A concrete thermal mass floor integrates in-floor heat. The warped west facade gives nod to the graceful, aging, grey-barn neighbor, and features great sliding porch doors. Inside, ropes and pulleys operate lights and doors. Outside, awnings of steel and cable provide for adjustable light infiltration. Locally harvested 4/4 rough-sawn white oak creates a rain screen as an exterior skin. Together with clients, the architect put together a program of creating a full-time house with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and adequate storage. The project is 2600 gross square feet, with 1850 finished square feet.



The project debuts our series dedicated to the winners of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2011 Housing Award for Architecture. The jury for the awards had the following comments about the project: “Wonderfully whimsical!” “The house transforms into a beautiful lantern at night.” “ This wonderful and stunning modern take on the original reflects and updates the soul of the original barn.”

Project Credits:
Architect: Alchemy
Location: Blair, Wis.
Construction: Empire Development
Engineering: Stroh Engineering
Photographs: © Alchemy LLC


Content courtesy of the American Institute of Architects

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Last Updated on Friday, 20 May 2011 12:35