Before & After: Balancing Barn House, 3D Models & Pictures


Many of the projects by MVRDV go beyond speculative – they are sheer conceptual exercises, designer statements that no one would possibly build. It would have been easy to assume that the ‘balanced barn’ was one of these, but here it is in living color, constructed in conjunction with Mole Architects. But is it what you would have anticipated from early-stage plans and projections?

Over half of this vacation home hangs on the air, cantilevered out over a sloping hill that drops away from the grounded portion of the residence. ?The retreat is part of a five-house set designed by established and emerging architects of note. The side-to-side window is a tad smaller and the final exterior is a bit more shiny than the original model might have indicated, though, to be fair, the shot was taken on a bright day.

Incredible trusses make this dizzying suspension possible, though a consistency of design across the whole makes the feat look effortless. Still, one gets the sense the whole structure could break in half and slide down the hill at a moment’s notice. In this respect, it does exactly what the earliest design sketches indicate.

Inside, wood members make for a cozier home than the metal-clad, vertigo-inducing exterior (and the gray-filled original 3D models) would lead one to expect. A small ‘floorlight’ window lets people look down to the covered space below, or back up into the home from the sheltered hillside slope overhung by the house.

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