Netherlands-based architects Annemariken Hilberink and Geert Bosch had to cut down seven 100-year-old oak trees on the estate where they live and work, just outside the city of ’s-Hertogenbosch. Rather than selling the trees for paper, they decided to mill them and build a new barn. The new structure makes extraordinarily efficient use of the milled lumber, and it draws inspiration from the historic farmhouses of the area.
"Traditionally, most farmhouses in the Meierij of ’s-Hertogenbosch have their separate parts—such as living quarters, storage space, and cowsheds—integrated into a single building," according to Annemariken and Geert. "Over time, however, these compact buildings frequently became too cramped to house all of these functions, so a separate barn was added."
"By replacing a collage of obsolete shelters and sheds, we would, in line with our farm’s monumental character, build a new barn with locally harvested materials employing traditional techniques," say Annemariken and Geert.
The oak trees were cut down using a mobile sawmill, and the strong trunks were used for the structural frame of the barn and roof, and the planks of the facade. The remaining tree parts were used for other aspects of the barn.
The architects mixed concrete and bark to create a textured, organic-looking surface for the exterior walls on each end of the structure. This composite material makes the barn blend in with its forested surroundings.
They also used small pieces of wood from the trees as roof shingles. "The roughness of this cleaved timber ensures that this untreated roofing will last for decades," say Annemariken and Geert. The leftover tree material was chopped up and set aside to be used as firewood.
The 1,300-square-foot barn is split into three areas: a carport, a storage room, and an office with a workshop and meeting area. A loft above the storage room opens to the workshop.
Wood’s organic nature led to the barn’s beautiful imperfections—from the board-formed concrete volumes to the rough-hewn planks, some of which are marked by barbed wire and shrapnel dating back to the 1940s. "The barn’s aesthetics have been strongly influenced by coincidence," say Annemariken and Geert.
Architect of Record: Hilberink & Bosch Architects
Builder/General Contractor: Zandenbouw
Structural Engineer: Raadgevend Ingenieursburo van Nunen
Landscape Design: Parklaan Landschapsarchitecten
Lighting Design: Peter van Kempen Lichtarchitect
Mobile Sawmill: Brabanthout
Woodstove: Deklein & Vanhoff