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The Balancing Barn

Social enterprise Living Architecture brings modern architecture to a wider public by creating public homes. Consequently, Studio Makkink & Bey was asked to design an interior for MVRDV’s balancing house in Suffolk.

By Editor / 23-09-2010

Social enterprise Living Architecture aims to make modern architecture available to a wider public by renting them out as holiday accommodation. While most modern architecture exists within private homes or transitory places such as airports and museums, this project was set up to create public spaces with a more residential character. Studio Makkink & Bey was commissioned to design the interior of MVRDV’s Balancing Barn in Suffolk.

The house embodies Alain de Botton’s – writer, philosopher and creative director of Living Architecture – notion that experiences are the constituents of their interior concept. The elongated building by MVRDV shares its interior with the earth and sky, balancing on the edge of a hillside with one foot firmly on the ground. Accordingly the interior starts at the entrance with an earth theme, slowly morphing until reaching the wall-sized window in the back of the house, that allows for a full sky view.

Consisting of a kitchen, dining area and four double bedrooms, the house is set up for two people but can accommodate eight. Walls and floors are covered throughout the building with colour samples taken from paintings by John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.

Various spaces have been given extra attention such as the kitchen that forms the gateway form outside to inside. It is a workspace where everything raw is processed and cultivated into a meal, depending on the number of visitors and the amount of space needed, the kitchen table can be divided into two separate parts. The house comes with its own tableware: each set consists of 14 generic pieces completed with two pieces that stand out with their rich finishing. On a visit to the Balancing Barn, a couple might enjoy dinner with the complete set of tableware. When joined by others, up to eight people can use one special piece together with the more communal dinnerware, so that every single person can enjoy a bit of luxury.

Another important feature of the house is the bedrooms. Each one has a painting by Gainsborough or Constable, which gradually alters into a pixelated version of itself thereby determining the colour scheme. Through this process, the classical paintings transform into abstract images.

To the back of the building sits the living room, hovering above the ground and offering views into the distance through its large window. The floor  becomes a window, amplifying the notion of soaring high above ground. Pieces by Dutch designers such as Hella Jongerius, Christien Meindertsma, Ineke Hans and Gerrit Rietvelt furnish the space. Here, as in the bedrooms, a painting by Gainsborough results in the main colour infusion, in this case: sky blue.

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