Handcrafted details, energy-efficient principles, and a thoroughly contemporary interior combine at the Friends Lab, a barn-inspired home designed by Madrid-based AMPS Arquitectura & Diseño. The clients are a young family who wanted a house they could share with friends and family on their farm in southern England.
"We were on the same page regarding a sustainable approach to life, and they believed we could deliver something different from the rest of the practices they had worked with in the past," says AMPS founder Alberto Marcos, who met the clients through the school their children attended.
In addition to a spacious, sustainable home, the clients requested a residence that would blend into the landscape. Marcos took inspiration from the farm’s blackened timber buildings in designing a long, gable structure enveloped in black-stained Accoya timber batten screen cladding.
The home’s likeness to the local agricultural typology, however, is limited to its exterior appearance. To achieve high levels of energy efficiency, the design team constructed the building with prefabricated panels made of cross-laminated timber. These large-scale wood panels not only greatly enhanced the structure’s thermal properties, but also considerably reduced the build time.
"The Friends Lab is very close to carbon neutral," explains Marcos. "The 30 kW solar array and the double ground-source heat pump also power the rest of the buildings on the farm. The farm can practically operate with its own resources, including a borehole with a treatment plant to supply water."
In contrast to the black timber exterior, the interior is bright and full of light-toned materials including limestone and lime-based mineral micromortar (Mortex) floors, warm timber surfaces, and colorful tiles and furnishings.
As with the facade’s meticulously installed batten screens, fastidious attention to detail was given to all the rooms, which are dressed with custom elements—from a contemporary tree sculpture to bespoke Mortex basins in every bathroom.
The light-filled interiors seamlessly connect with the landscape via sliding glass doors that open up to outdoor terraces "that act like small, private islands anchored within the outdoor world," say the architects.
The constant connection with the surrounding woods and fields has become Marcos’s favorite aspect of the project. "It opens to the landscape and is in touch with the outdoors from a very comfortable, human interior," he says.
Builder/General Contractor: Olive Tree renovations
Structural Engineer: Chapero & Marsh
CLT Engineering: Eurban
M&E Engineers: CBG
Civil Engineering: Infrastructs
Lighting Design: Nur Lighting
Interior Design: AMPS Arquitectura y Diseño
Joinery: Gabilondo SL
Indoor Tree: Unai Gabilondo
Stay up to Date on the Latest in Prefab Homes
From cozy cottages to large family houses, see how prefab continues to redefine the future of construction, building, and design.