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The Old Stables, Long Close, Downton

Located in the middle of Downton and long since disconnected from its original agricultural function, this is a building well suited to residential use, but like all barn conversions it needed to be handled sensitively to avoid an over-domestic feel. The judges’ visit showed how well this had been achieved. In the main range full advantage had been taken of existing openings to avoid undue change, apart from the glass wall replacing the former main doors which is now a successful contemporary feature.

The less substantial subsidiary range towards the road had been rebuilt with a well-judged mix of timber, glass and render, the latter reminiscent of plastered chalk cob, one of the area’s traditional materials. Internally a simple uncluttered effect had been created with the full-height space in the entrance area creating a striking focal point. The judges applauded the high insulation values (and the resultant low heating costs) which had been achieved, partly by using an insulated panel material more commonly encountered in new buildings.

Consequent challenges of detailing had been met with great skill. The judges wondered if the south-facing glass wall would create another challenge in hot weather, but their overall reaction was that this carefully considered and well executed project gave a new lease of life to a historic structure, and that an award was the appropriate response.

Architects: The Classic Architecture Company