The Inspiration for The Stacked Barn

The Inspiration for The Stacked Barn

Maxwell Ryan
Jul 29, 2016
I photographed this barn that lives very near to my house. Like many of the barns on the east end of Long Island, it is devoid of any trim or ornamentation, totally shingled and very simple right down to the ground.
(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Welcome to The Stacked Barn project where I lead you through a year-long odyssey that I've never been on before: the building of a new house. I'm going to show you how my new home gets built - step by step. This is Chapter Three.

I've always loved my old house and didn't want to change the layout too much, but I definitely wanted to use my design chops to figure out how to make it work EVEN better. When you've lived a long time in a home, you really get to know it and exactly what sort of changes you'd like to make.

I also wanted to make it simpler in design, so that it no longer looked like a suburban house and more like a shingled barn, which are totally native to this part of Long Island. I was also inspired by the long barn shaped museum that Herzog de Meuron had designed for the Parrish Art Museum in Southhampton (pictured below).

This is just one end of the VERY long, straight "shed" structure that Herzog de Meuron came up with. Note the great roof overhang and the scarcity of windows, which not only works well for a museum, it cuts down on cost.

I loved the long, lean shape and the fact that - apparently - they settled on the shape due to very tight budget restraints. In other words, I was inspired to build a beautiful, simple barn like house because it would keep the costs way down. Less is more! At least that's where I started out...

(Image credit: Parrish Art Museum)

Then I was taken by a very related barn language that I discovered comes from Scandinavia: simple shapes clothed in BLACK. I love the next few images which took my idea for a new barn even further.

This is called House Morran. It was designed by Johannes Norlander Arkitektur, and lives in Gothenburg Archipelago, Sweden. Super simple inside, fiberboard and plywood are used for all the finish surfaces.
Black cutout against the evening sky, I love the multiple barn shapes here. The Shingle House is in Dungeness, Kent and was "Designed as a 'living experience', the brief required a simple house comprising simple accommodation."
This summer house was built in 2011 in Gotland, Sweden by DEVE Architects. Again, it maintains an iconic, peaked roof shape with minimal windows and a black exterior that blends in with the landscape.

The house we were designing, however, was to have a full second floor which made it taller than the old house and probably taller than those above. As soon as we explored this new height we immediately ran into zoning restrictions that had become much stricter since the 1960's (when the original house was built) and it required John Berg (architect) and myself to do some creative thinking. It was John who came through with a brilliant solution that was to define the Stacked Barn. The inspiration? Vitra's main campus offices in Germany!

(Image credit: Vitra)

ALSO designed by Herzog de Meuron, these were the original Stacked Barns and John came up with the idea of turning the second floor into a separate barn that would live cantilevered on a 90 degree angle to the downstairs floor. This is what happened...

The Very First Plans

July, 2015

These were John's original plans back in July of last summer:

This shows the simple house from behind with a wrap-around deck. Underneath the overhang would be an outdoor dining table right off of the living room inside.
(Image credit: John Berg)
This shows the front of the house with the main entrance through the overhang, and a side entrance into the kitchen through the left porch.
(Image credit: John Berg)

Now it would have been nice to totally cantilever the upper barn over the bottom barn, BUT the steel involved in making that successful would have been too expensive for this project. ONE cost savings, but many more to add and subtract as I soon learned!

The earliest plan here shows how the new house is very similar in layout to the original. You enter in the middle right into the living room and two small bedrooms are directly on your right. On the far left is the kitchen, which like many houses on the block, have moved their kitchen to what was once a breezeway. You will note that there IS no more garage....
(Image credit: John Berg)
Upstairs is where a lot of change is happening. The original house had only a regular bedroom and a small bedroom sharing one bath. Now there are two nicely sized bedrooms with their own bathrooms and a full study in the middle for getting work done away from any and all noise down below.
(Image credit: John Berg)

The Latest Plans

July, 2016

(Image credit: John Berg)

And now, a full year later, building has begun (I'll show you that next) and the plans have solidified, BUT we have to make changes every week as we come upon problems or notice that something that looked great on paper doesn't translate to the physical space.

(Image credit: John Berg)
The front door is on the right. You enter in, pass on either side of the staircase and then you're into the living room.
(Image credit: John Berg)
This the view looking through the house from the living room to the front door!
(Image credit: John Berg)
The kitchen! In keeping with the Scandinavian and sorta simple approach, it's going to be an IKEA kitchen with a bunch of carrera marble, the most affordable stone you can buy.... and I LOVE it.
(Image credit: John Berg)
Looking through to the kitchen from the living room.
(Image credit: John Berg)
Upstairs in the "study" you see a really nice big bookshelf with a desk and a bench a long the left wall. The door on the right goes into the master bedroom
(Image credit: John Berg)

Digging For The Foundation

May, 2016

Next time I'll show you the very beginning of the build, when it all got dirty, and I mean dirty. I've never seen so much dirt in my life!

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)


Architect: John Berg, Berg Design Architecture
Contractor: Peter Germano

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