Elkstone is one of highest villages in the Cotswolds located between Cirencester and Cheltenham. The studios just outside the village are part of a whole farm conversion and themselves are a transformation of a modern grain barn into a vibrant hub of contemporary commercial offices and gym.
As the Architects behind the project, we looked to retain the raw unpretentious form and appearance of the barns whilst weaving in contemporary elements to achieve the required functionality and appeal. This gives an authenticity which is naturally in harmony with the wider landscape.
We designed expansive windows and skylights to capture the ever changing light in this exposed location, and create a connection with the landscape beyond to differentiate the offices from your typical commercial office park. Inside this gives an airiness and connection to the outside world one would only usually expect in a much smaller building than the 16,000 sqft of floor space created.
One of our primary objectives was to create spaces that could evolve and adapt to changing needs over time. To achieve this, we created central circulation cores that allowed for either open plan offices or division into smaller office uses in time. The existing steel structure was assessed and reinforced as required to support alternative loadings, to ensure the spaces can be adapted without compromising the structural integrity.
We carefully curated material choices that celebrated the barn's agricultural essence. The simple use of exposed stone and weathered timber cladding pay homage to the barns past but partnered with contemporary glazing create a simple modern reinterpretation of a barn aesthetic. Using local materials creates a connection with the wider built character of the Cotswolds. The natural materials ensure a patina which brings interest and appeal to the staff and visitors as light, water, and shadow play across their faces.
Our design extended beyond the barn's interior, embracing the surrounding landscape. Outdoor spaces were designed to encourage relaxation, collaboration, and connection with nature, including a paddle court which all promote employee well-being and creativity. Whilst altruistic in part, this also makes the barns commercial attractive to tenants and helps retain and attract employees.
In the end, our design ethos was a marriage of respect for history, innovation, and sustainable practices. By reimagining the barn we created a space that honours the past, supports the present by creating huge rural employment opportunities, and stands ready to embrace the future.