The Autobarn embodies a private client’s enduring vision of a sanctuary for his collection of classic German automobiles. This project comprises two distinct sections: a sleek five-bay garage for routine use and a loftier workshop dedicated to maintenance and prospective restoration ventures. Designed with longevity in mind, the Autobarn’s objective extends beyond its primary function, envisioning a versatile edifice capable of numerous applications. Presently, it doubles as an event venue, with future aspirations of evolving into an energy-efficient residence.
Situated on the fringe of a quaint Somerset village, the Autobarn graces the grounds of an 18th-century Grade 2 listed house. It harmoniously replaces a series of disparate outbuildings, merging their utility into a single, aesthetically pleasing architectural entity nestled amidst a cluster of mature trees.
Paying homage to the neighboring agricultural structures, the project design infuses rudimentary construction methods with modern elegance, serving as a cost-effective model for rural architecture. Constructed from a concrete foundation and steel framework, with intermittent wood siding and zinc roofing, the Autobarn reimagines barn typologies at various refinement levels. The natural zinc roof’s age-induced tarnishing harmonizes with the silver patina of the chestnut cladding, embracing the passage of time.
In line with traditional barns, the Autobarn maintains light and air circulation through an array of movable layers. Initially appearing as a solid monolith, the barn walls transform through several doors, including a monumental 7m sliding timber screen. This arrangement casts a dappled light effect during daylight hours, which inverts at night, with internal illumination radiating into the encompassing landscape.
Inside, the steel framework is manifest in a sequence of uncomplicated portal frames, while sustainably sourced wood-fibre acoustic boards form internal walls and ceilings. The garage space exudes tranquility and sophistication, whereas the workshop asserts a sturdier, grander presence with concrete wainscoting, equipped to host a car lift.
The Autobarn’s ‘long-life/loose-fit’ ambitions ensure it surpasses residential insulation and energy performance standards. While thermostats currently maintain a lower setting for its present use, the building incorporates underfloor heating powered by an Air Source Heat Pump, with additional concealed services in the internal wall paneling for future conversions.
Initiated in November 2020 and completed by the close of 2021, the project overcame the global pandemic’s repercussions and construction material inflation. Even with the inclusion of unique high-cost items, such as the electric garage doors, the Autobarn was constructed for under £2,300/m2. Aligned with high energy performance and the use of natural materials, it reflects our studio’s commitment to blending beauty, affordability, and sustainability.