Carl Turner

Related Project:
Stealth Barn

Jeremy Phillips

Construction is inherently simple. In the UK the process has been broken down into subcontracted trades, each one sticking largely to their own ‘patch’ and with little knowledge (or interest) in any other. This is fine. We are where we are.

The skill of the architect with a little courage is to work with both recognised building standards and the compartmentalised trades, to understand them, and then forget them. We don’t see buildings necessarily as a series of components ordered from catalogues. We prefer to think in a more elemental way about core materials. This doesn’t preclude using or adapting specific suppliers, but that’s not a starting point.

Our starting point is an analysis of the ideas informing a particular proposal, and then to allow conceptual details to emerge to reinforce or amplify those concerns. We often sketch out a detail at the very earliest stage of the conception of a project, as we feel the two cannot be separated. You won’t find this thinking in standard detail manuals, and it seems architects and architecture students share a general fear and misunderstanding of the importance of ‘detail’ in building. This is compounded by both the over-reliance of digital imagery (students) and standardisation through ‘robust details’ (architects).

Conceptually, our Stealth Barn project is about absence rather than expression: creating a form that appears as a shadow or silhouette. It also references the tar-covered agricultural buildings dotted around Norfolk. Practically, we accepted we couldn’t afford to modify the timber frame structure so decided to leave it visible, with simple cladding and openings to heighten the feeling of a ‘skin’. The illustrated detail shows how we kept the exterior simple with a concealed gutter at the eaves and downpipes within the wall build-up. Despite a very limited budget, the project demonstrates what can be achieved with a strong concept and attention to detail.