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Self-build is book lover’s dream

October 12, 2018

Like many other “Grand Designs” addicts, I’d love to build my own home one day and I’m always on the look out for inspiration.

This Yorkshire project grabbed my attention and has me longing for a library, though I’ll have to boost my collection of books after having a massive, and at times heartbreaking, clear out (the books went to the Samaritans bookshop in our local market so that helped me feel better, though I still feel bereft).

This library with knobs on, is in a converted farm shed that has just won a top architecture prize after being transformed into a new home. The property, known as “Old Shed New House” won the prestigious 2018 Stephen Lawrence Prize for architecture.

It was built as a retirement property for a couple who wanted a tranquil site in a rural setting. The former agricultural building was the perfect fit and they were lucky enough to get planning permission. Their son, Greg Storrar of Tonkin Liu Architects, designed a radical remodelling and fit-out to suit huis parents’ needs.

The steel frame and ground slab of the shed were reused and then clad in shot-blasted larch of varying widths was stained white and sits between galvanised steel fins to reference the bark of the surrounding silver birch trees.

The property, named “Old Shed New House”, is now a three-bedroom home with the vast library space at its heart – housing a lifetime’s collection of books.  A long east-west gallery frames the rising and setting sun and the house also has a living space, three bedrooms, a utility room and storage.

Traditional construction techniques and low-cost materials were used throughout in order to meet a tight budget but sustainability and energy-efficiency are key components. The house follows a Passivhaus strategy of high levels of insulation, air tightness and a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery unit. Timber louvres are neatly integrated into the timber cladding to limit solar gain in the south-facing library.

The interior colour scheme of subtle grey tones, concrete screed floor and white shaded timber complements the art work in every room. Tonkin Liu describe the house as  “A journey of interconnected spaces that alternate between the grand and the intimate. It is part country cottage, part classical villa.”

Stephen Lawrence Prize founder Marco Goldschmied said: “Old Shed New House illustrates perfectly what a talented architect can do with a fairly modest budget. The Foundation is delighted to present Tonkin Liu with the Stephen Lawrence Prize 2018.”

The Stephen Lawrence Prize aims to encourage new, experimental architectural talent, celebrating and rewarding projects with a construction budget of less than £1 million.  First awarded in 1998 in memory of Stephen Lawrence, who was taking steps to become an architect before his untimely death in 1993, the £5,000 Prize has been sponsored by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation since its inception


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