Published - 28th May 2014
If you’re undecided about modern architecture, take a look at the Balancing Barn on Living Architecture’s website, or better still spend a weekend there and you’ll soon come off the fence.
Whilst it’s unlikely to find many converts from the Daily Mail brigade, if you’ve an open mind to modernism, a weekend at the Balancing Barn in Suffolk could make you re-evaluate the way you live and your approach to architecture.
Designed by Dutch architects MVRDV for Living Architecture, a social enterprise with currently 8 properties in its portfolio and formed with the specific intention of revolutionising domestic architecture in the holiday rental market.
Well they’ve certainly succeeded with the Balancing Barn. It’s an uncompromising, brilliantly designed and engineered, shiny metal clad 30-metre linear structure with 15-metres of the building cantilevered and hanging freely in space.
It would be easy to dismiss the design intent as egocentric pomposity. Phrases like’ engaging its temporary inhabitants with a new way to experience the countryside’ – ‘the linear structure provides a stage for a changing outdoor experience’- ‘the metal façade reflects the changing seasons’ will inevitably receive the same response from traditionalists as Jeremy Clarkson does from feminists.
But when you experience the building with an open mind, it really does achieve the philosophical and practical aims of the designers. After spending a couple of days at the Barn with friends, some of whom might own up to reading the Mail on occasion, it really did change the way we interacted with our surroundings and each other and definitely induced challenging conversations about design and architecture.
If the Balancing Barn changes the views of just a few die-hard traditionalists it will do more to improve the way we think about and relate to architecture than our town planners have achieved for generations and might even encourage our volume housebuilders to embrace progressive architecture.
For my part, I’m booking the Shingle House for my next long weekend where I can soak up the nuclear rays from Dungeness Power Station.