Inside the Devon home shortlisted for House of the Year on Grand Designs

View from a barn conversion bedroom looking through an arched doorway.

The RIBA judges said conversion of The Outfarm was "approaching work-of-art status". - Credit: Rory Gardiner

A stone barn conversion in Devon is in line to be named House of the Year on renowned TV property show Grand Designs after being shortlisted as one of the top properties in the country. 

Arched windows in the basement of a barn conversion.

The Outfarm at Blackawton near Totnes is on a shortlist of six amazing properties. - Credit: Rory Gardiner

The Outfarm at Blackawton near Totnes is on a shortlist of six amazing properties to be shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year 2021. The annual award is presented to the best new architect-designed house or extension in the UK. The winner will be revealed on Grand Designs: House of the Year, on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at 9pm on Channel 4. 

The original barn housed prize cattle but was abandoned for many years until it was rescued by Sarah and Tom of TYPE Architects in London, who undertook the work to transform it into something entirely different. 

A woodburner against a wall with an open doorway to the right.

The once neglected barn ahs been transformed into a modern home. - Credit: Rory Gardiner

The architects decided to concentrate the project budget on the structure of the building, putting time and money into the old stone walls and the striking Douglas Fir frame, which is where the team of designers and carpenters at Devon-based firm Carpenter Oak were able to lend their expertise. 

A group of seven carpentry firm workers standing against a pile of wooden planks.

Some of the team at Carpenter Oak involved in The Outfarm project, L-R: Steve Middleton, Dylan Dreyer, Jack Parker, Muna Sono, Pontus Karlsson and Nikki Roorda. - Credit: Carpenter Oak

Carpenter Oak director Luke Copley-Wilkins said: “Having a project shortlisted for this RIBA award is such an honour. We’ve been building timber framed homes in the UK and overseas for over 30 years and take great care and pride in everything we make, so to be recognised by the industry in this way is an incredible reward for the whole team.” 

View through a lit archway in the side of a barn conversion.

The original barn housed prize cattle but was abandoned for many years. - Credit: Rory Gardiner

The RIBA judges said of The Outfarm: “Within a typology of barn conversions, this place is approaching work-of-art status. It tells a wonderful story of family ambition with father, son and partner working hard with vision and restraint.  

“This unique and rediscovered barn was no ordinary barn, and this is clear to see in the quality of its masonry, its scale, its proportion, and its immediate landscape setting, complete with its subtle but powerfully anchoring crescent shaped enclosure.  

“It was a place for prize cattle, and now through its faultless execution has transformed this previously abandoned building into something worthy of being a scheduled monument.  

Looking up some wooden stairs in a barn conversion.

The conversion melded the old and the new inside the barn. - Credit: Rory Gardiner

“As a piece of contemporary design, everything that has been added brings continuity to its past and present life and sets up a wonderful future of further interpretation and use. From the structural steel shoes that stabilise the original half-rounded columns, to the new roof, specifically engineered to allow for an additional mezzanine if and when necessary.  

“The judges couldn't find fault in any of the decisions, from the lightest of touches in the treatment of the landscape, to the hand-forged balustrades. A gem in the rough.”   
The structural engineers for the project - PCA Consulting Engineers – are also Devon-based.  

A wooden framed ceiling in a barn conversion.

The architects decided to concentrate the project budget on the striking Douglas Fir frame. - Credit: Rory Gardiner

The Outfarm (also known as Redhill Barn) has already been given the RIBA South West Award 2021, RIBA South West Conservation Award 2021 and the RIBA National Award 2021. 

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