Beautiful Farm Buildings?

I’ve talked in previous posts about ‘farmsteads’ – one of the four ‘rural archetypes’ I identified for my guided tour of Norfolk with Beyond Green last summer. I suggested one might plan a relatively dense knot of new homes around a courtyard, as a way of upping the average density of a larger new development of new homes. It didn’t occur to me to take the reference literally. That is, I wasn’t thinking of new agricultural buildings when I made the analogy. Modern farm buildings are just big dull sheds, aren’t they?

Which is why I found this piece arresting. Matthew Naylor writing for Farmers Weekly acknowledges the impact that agricultural buildings have in the rural landscape and pleads for farmers to build better quality ‘sheds’. He suggests that with agriculture being more profitable than ever, it would be nice if farmers thought of the new buildings they commission as part of the architectural heritage of the countryside.

At my practice, Lucas Hickman Smith, we are working on a project for Holkham Estate near to Holkham Hall, the seat of the Earls of Leicester. In the early C19th the estate was a hot-bed of agricultural innovation, and the barns and stables spread across the estate are as grand and handsome in their own way as many a country house in the county. I’d like to think Matthew Naylor is right when he says todays farmers might try to emulate the Cokes of Holkham, do better than the grey or green tin sheds which pepper the countryside of rural Norfolk – perhaps re-discovering the appeal of a vast pan-tiled roof across a wheat field…but I’m afraid I’m not holding my breath!

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PS: Writing this reminded me of this sketch of a barn at Stiffkey which tells me it’s 13 years old. Basically a big tin shed – but there was something about its colour scheme that caught my eye…as the notes explain.

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