Black carbon barn

A dark new addition in the form of this net zero carbon black barn has recently been completed by Gavin Langford Architects to complement an existing Victorian Fen-town house in Cambridgeshire.

Glimpsing through the gates of Rose Petal Cottage, opposite All Saints Church graveyard, this new building replaces and takes its shape from a former stone mason’s yard, animal shed and wood store to create a new stand alone home gym or studio with its own laundry and wet room. Also included within the building is a secure store for garden tools, bikes and other domestic paraphernalia, doubling also as a potting shed and mini workshop.

Boundary walls are a smooth-faced black brick/black mortar cavity wall, with the garden facing timber framed wall clad with charred oak (inspired by a historic fire that razed part of the original building and had consequences for its then porcine occupiers). The roof structure is supported on exposed oak trusses, with stainless steel connections and tension bar system.

Internally a wide-board, hand finished black oak floor board provides the studio floor and internal door facing, and other details include a utility/laundry room (occupied by a hidden robot vacuum which emerges from its plinth lair when needed), a recessed pocket door to the wet room, climate controlled roof-lights and ventilation system, and flat floor walk in shower.

The charring of the external cladding board enhances the naturally distinctive texture and grain of the oak and adds interest at a close up level, as does the black oak floor which also contrasts agreeably with the naturally finished oak of the trusses and internal trim.

A low carbon approach with on-site generation of power from renewables was considered from the outset, with thirteen in-roof flush-mounted solar photovoltaic panels (sadly not on show) installed to the rear, west facing, roof elevation. This connects to the grid via the domestic consumer unit and a fully integrated coupled battery storage system in the cellar of the main house. The PV system also provides power for an EV charging point. The power generated exceeds the new building’s annual energy demands.

The building has been designed to accommodate its current use as mentioned above but also to be able to be used as a self contained studio apartment if the need arises in the future.

Many parts of the original building were re-appropriated for custom made furniture and (animal) bones that were exposed during construction are now on exhibit in a suitable glass case.


Gavin Langford Architects

Structural Engineer:

Andrew Firebrace Partnership

Building Services & Environmental Engineering Consultant:

OR Consulting Engineers

Main Contractor: 

Langdon Construction 

Sub Contractors:

Cambridge Solar

Coach House Joinery

All photographs copyright © 2021 Nick Guttridge http://www.nickguttridge.com