17th Century Barn Conversion Complete

Thursday, June 15th, 2017




Anstey Hall Barns, nestled between Grantchester and Trumpington near Cambridge, have been carefully designed and restored to blend seamlessly in their original environment, and stay true to their ancient Saxon structures and Grade II listings.

This circa £8M project for Hill Residential was brought to life with the skill and vision of a highly collaborative team; David Miller Architects (DMA) utilised its state-of-the-art portfolio of digital design experience and worked with Hill Bespoke to develop and apply advanced digital construction techniques to deliver 12 individual uniquely designed homes. This vision has been recognised in its shortlisting in the Design Through Innovation category for the RICS Awards 2017.

At the start of the project the DMA team knew this was an ambitious undertaking, given the initial derelict structures, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries – with further complications of Grade II listings on some of the structures’ timber framing. With a dilapidated edifice and the planning constraints of working in a conservation area, this project traditionally would be looked on as high-risk. However DMA approached the development with innovation and high-tech design to help unlock it.




Digital planning processes

Lauren Westpfel, Designer at DMA said ‘’Modelling the complex buildings in 3D allowed us to accurately evaluate and plan the build using as much of the original structure as possible. This gave us accurate building cost forecasts and so greatly reduced the risk.’’

Employing high-tech digital capture methods from the outset, DMA generated 3D surveys, which in-turn aided in creating the project model. To further enhance the saleability of the barns, furniture layouts and marketing images have been produced via this programme enabling Hill to successfully promote sales off-plan.

Working on 12 buildings within a confined site, Hill Bespoke were keen to identify at the start digital strategies that could simplify the build and reduce the amount of work on an already busy site. Having used Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) on their award winning Mayfield School, DMA proposed this method to speed up the time to create new floors and walls within the conversions. Using the digital model of the existing building, the CLT was cut off-site to fit exactly into the uneven structure and simply craned into place within a matter of a few days.



The model also allowed Bill-of Quantities and procurement information to be generated digitally which meant that full project purchasing plans could allow for detailed and timely ordering of goods and services, review of costs and avoid late orders  and waste. It is estimated that by utilising this method, the project saved circa £50K in setting-out groundworks alone, from an overall build cost of £7.6M.

Mike Beckett – Director, Hill Bespoke commented: “Having gone some way to prove that the technology is wholly beneficial on this complex refurbishment project, we have now developed processes for production and delivery of all our future housing schemes.”

Progress in Cambridge 04

Sympathetic restoration of heritage buildings

Adhering with Historic England’s principals, DMA set out to respect the previous form of the structures using original architectural materials and details such as green oak and lime bonded brickwork. The internal character has been preserved wherever possible, with some of the barns expressing their original beams and others including exposed brickwork. In line with Hill’s policies, adroit procurement of using local resources and reclaimed historic materials, has allowed the new builds to compliment the conversion parts of the project.

The four new-build homes have been situated around a newly created courtyard, sitting comfortably amongst the barn conversions to create a collection of homes like no other.

The conservation of this previously abandoned site, in this beautiful part of the Cambridge countryside, has enhanced the local area which already hosts a number of historically significant buildings. This project has proven that making use of advanced digital design and construction techniques can make sense of what was an extremely complex fusion of old and new, with an end result that makes this development a gem amongst other historical luxury properties.





Photos: Simon Harvey/Agnese Sanvito