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What usually happens to unused old buildings They often fall into disrepair, creating a visual and environmental waste. Unless, of course, someone comes along to convert old structures into something new and wonderful.

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That’s exactly what Bjarne Mastenbroek and his Amsterdam-based architecture firm SeARCH have done with this old farmhouse and its outbuildings in Zutphen, Netherlands. Though the original livestock barn, the central part of this T-shaped farmhouse, was torn down and replaced with a new building, some of the old buildings stayed put while new construction was simply added on to connect them.

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The open design of the new construction, along with the airy conservatory that separates the two wings of the house, hearkens back to the agricultural beginnings of this unique dwelling. With exposed timbers, high ceilings and an unusual stretched and distorted exterior shape, the home both blends into and stands out from its farmland surroundings.

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There’s something decidedly unique about this lovely home, but unless you were told of its humble beginnings, it would be difficult to tell that the house had once been a barn and some sheds. This beautiful home is a perfect example of how to take an old, unused structure and give it new life. SeARCH, while being best known for its modern architectural designs, has created a truly impressive rural dwelling without consuming any new land in the process.

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“How can the historical and spatial qualities of an old farmyard, with all its various outbuildings, be retained when the new function is that of a family residence? The livestock barn which formed the stem of the traditional T-form farmhouse is demolished and replaced by a new building. This new extension attaches itself precisely to the opening left by the removal of the original barn, thus retaining the T-form. The new volume is skewed in plan giving it a distorting ‘pulled and dragged’ perspective. “

“The existing farmhouse and outbuildings are divided programmatically from the new extension. Living accommodation is situated in the existing building with the adjoining part of the extension housing a large open kitchen space and the entrance, situated between the new and existing. The workroom, guest accommodation and garden store are all located in the remainder of the new volume separated from the living spaces by a large conservatory. The freestanding barn is retained with an option for a future swimming pool conversion.”

“The load bearing construction of the extension consists of a series of solid prefabricated wooden plates. They define the building’s internal finishes and influence the quality of the interior space. By cladding the roof and elevations with a continuous skin of horizontal timber laths, the façades simultaneously have the appearance of being open, semi-transparent and closed.”