Tonkin Liu


Old Shed New House for a Private Client, North Yorkshire, Uk

The clients had spent several years looking for a quiet site to build their retirement home, before they found a farm shed located in a wild garden, on the edge of a small village in North Yorkshire. Discovering the site with their son Greg, now Associate at Tonkin Lui and Mike Tonkin, they sought to pull the landscape into the building’s form. A long double height gallery maintains the tree-lined approach and a tall library, bounded by mirror-backed shelving evokes the copse of silver birch found of the site. Walking into the library through a sliding door from the living room brought gasps from the Awards Jury. It is the heart of the home and a showpiece for a lifetime’s collection of books. Clever use of light and mirrors gave the impression of an art piece itself. Otherwise it Is a modest 3-bedroom house, build cost effectively, but with exquisite detailing throughout inside and out. The house follows a passivhaus strategy of high insulation, high air tightness, complemented by mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. Timber louvres are neatly integrated into the design of the timber cladding to limit solar gain in the South facing library. Larch cladding of various widths has been shot blasted and stained white between galvanised steel fins to offer a rhythmic façade that reads like the bark of the silver birch trees. Galvanised steel continues inside with a delicate mezzanine and bridge, using only 80mm structural depth, made delicate timber joinery in every room. The colour scheme of subtle grey tones, concrete screed floor and white shaded timber seems to effortlessly complement the art collection in every room.

“The house is a journey of interconnected spaces that alternate between the grand and the intimate….. it is part country cottage, part classical villa”

Tonkin Liu
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