Case study: The Library, Stanbridge Mill Farm, by Crawshaw Architects

Crawshaw Architects was asked to design an ambitious conversion of an agricultural out-building within the curtilage of the Grade II-listed Stanbridge Mill Farm in Dorset to bring a previously narrow and poorly-lit storage space into service as a library, office and kitchen, not least to house a private collection of books, including historic books on Palladian architecture.

While a decisive transformation of the interior was called for, we felt the original use of the building needed to be part of the story. The high nave and pair of aisles are in the form of a Classical library, but they are set out in the register of the original building using the materials and construction techniques of traditional farm carpentry and metalwork, grounding the new interventions in the existing context and its history.

The structural interventions are limited to the removal of two of the original wooden roof trusses, which have been replaced with laminated wooden portal frames in order to stabilise the external walls and to make way for a barrel-vaulted nave. Three new conservation-style rooflights interrupt the vault to provide natural light to the book-stacks. The floor in the library has been partially dug out by hand and lowered by 2 ft.

The vault, columns, shelves, tables and seating are made of the same solid oak planks and sections, deliberately selected to show knots and natural blemishes, and assembled using simple traditional socketed carpentry. The new internal doors and windows match the existing black steel-framed external windows. All the fittings are contemporary but closely related to the original iron frames and fixings.

Aidan Crawshaw, director, Crawshaw Architects

Start on siteMarch 2019CompletionNovember 2020Gross internal floor area116m²Construction cost£349,200Construction cost per m2£3,010ArchitectCrawshaw ArchitectsClientLord PhillimoreStructural engineerHardman AssociatesLighting/electrical outlet designCrawshaw ArchitectsInterior designCrawshaw ArchitectsM&E consultantCDPProject managerCrawshaw ArchitectsPrincipal designerCrawshaw ArchitectsApproved building inspectorDorset District CouncilMain contractorCando ConstructionsCAD software usedVectorworks, SketchUpPredicted design life100 yearsEmbodied/whole-life carbonUnknown

Case study: The Library, Stanbridge Mill Farm, by Crawshaw Architects

The material vocabulary refers closely to the original use and function of the host building – a cowshed. The solid oak sections were selected to show knots, blemishes and some pulp wood so as to express its primitive character. The construction language was carefully limited to simple sections assembled using traditional socketed carpentry techniques. The metal fittings were chosen to refer to the tradition of hand-forged farm ironmongery, blackened by the fire in a smithy. The glazed metal doors and windows were chosen to match the existing original steel famed shed windows. All of these primitive materials are intended to ground and counter-balance the rarefied form of a barrel-vaulted library.

Aidan Crawshaw, director, Crawshaw Architects

Door and internal windowsCrittallW20 single-glazed steelOffice, library

RooflightsThe Rooflight CompanyTop-hung conservation

Pendant lightsSpace Copenhagen, &Tradition Copenhagen35cm pendant light, Opal glass

Recessed light fittingsTornadoTF13 flush trimless LED

Surface-mounted light fittingsKuberGU10 stem display lightKitchen, hall,

Wall lightsDavid Chipperfield for WästbergW102 Chipperfield, blacked

CountertopCaesarstone30mm Flannel