Hollow Brook; The Back Story and the full enki magazine feature

We speak to Chris Noonan, Barr Build Director, all about the passionate revival of an old barn against the green backdrop of the lush Buckinghamshire landscape.

Over the past twenty years we, as Barr Group directors, have been fortunate enough to be instrumental in the build of some truly incredible properties and we have had the chance to work alongside some of the most creative and inspiring professionals in the industry.

““Hollow Brook was a flagship Barr Build project – one which allowed us to show what we are capable of when the buck stops with us””
Stuart Barr, Barr Group Founder & Director.

Q: Chris, Hollow Brook Farm Barn was under your jurisdiction from start to finish. Could you tell us why and how it came about?

Chris: Hollow Brook Farm Barns as a conversion project held great appeal as they offered the ultimate challenge - a completely blank sheet, aside from the huge structural frames, on which we could truly make our mark. The sheer size of the barns meant there was space to take both properties to above and beyond a standard residence, giving the flexibility to add the luxury elements which are not always feasible in a pre-specified scheme.

Q: What were the fundamentals when it came to the planning and design of Hollow Brook Farm Barn?

Chris: Ultimately, we followed deeply entrenched Barr Group principles; meticulous planning (in this case down to the very last detail before a spade ever touched the ground), design-led excellence (sharing the vision for the project with everyone who worked on it) and the very highest build standards.

““For all of us, it felt like the natural thing to do is to put this accumulated knowledge and experience into another stand-alone Barr Group project.””
Chris Noonan, Barr Build DTC Director

Q: Can you tell us about the sustainable aspect of the Hollow Brook build?

Chris: Sustainability has always been a fundamental part of the Barr Build ethos, so, of course the opportunity to demonstrate our full eco-build capability was amazing. From materials re-use, belts and braces insulation, and sustainable sourcing, right through to the application of the latest in sustainable technologies, we have been able to minimise the environmental impact of the build and achieve a very low carbon footprint. Renewable technologies deployed include solar panels, an air-source heat pump and MVHR system, and, of course, the likes of electric car charging points. The massive concrete frame and it’s foundations were reused and materials were sourced with longevity, sustainability and environmental responsibility front of mind. In addition, the workforce and suppliers were, wherever possible, from the local area.

Q: Where did the inspiration for the Hollow Brook structure and finishes come from?

Chris: We always knew that it would be a huge challenge and a long process to get the barns through planning. Consultancy from Keith Durham of KD Design meant that we had advice on hand through the main structural formation and planning, but after that we were on our own. As a starting point we took inspiration from places we had visited to and loved; for example, a stunning French vineyard was the inspiration of the oak mezzanine and for bringing green climbers into the interior scheme.

The timber external cladding is another really exciting feature. We took our inspiration from Macdonald Wright Architect's stunning Caring Wood Barn, with the barn externals clad in rough sawn ebony-stained red-wood boards. By seamlessly covering the roofs and the external walls in the same material we were able to give the impression of a single sculptural form whilst keep the overall aesthetic as natural as possible.

Another striking finish was the use of reclaimed granite cobbles throughout the hallway and under the external canopies. We had some great specialist contractors involved; the polished concrete floor, in a bespoke finish, was by Lazenby Flooring and the custom laid oak flooring on the mezzanine and master suite was by a local company Oakley Wood Timber. We are endeavouring to showcase the work of the many amazing suppliers and specialists involved on our social media.

Q: What does this project mean to the Barr Group?

Stuart: It has been great to be able to share the success of Hollow Brook. Nearly every member of the Barr Group team was involved with the project in one way or another, as well as so many of our long-term suppliers and subcontractors. As directors we are very proud of what the Barr Group can achieve through working together and embracing the shared vision. This is something we are proud to be able to demonstrate on every single project, whatever its scale and specification.

““Projects like Hollow Brook puts us into the shoes of our clients and design collaborators, allowing us to understand the build process through their eyes.””
Chris Noonan, Barr Build DTC Director

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Hollow Brook Barn
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