The Longhouse in Heslington won the Large Residential category and the Lord Mayor’s special award at the York Design Awards 2019.
A new build and the conversion of two brick barns were combined to create one striking contemporary home. The property, which is on an old farmstead, is in a conservation area and straddles green belt but it won planning approval due to exceptional architecture, which reflects the site’s agricultural heritage.
It was another triumph for architect Ric Blenkharn, of Malton-based Bramhall Blenkharn, who has won multiple awards for designing contemporary buildings.
The Longhouse was commissioned when the owner, who had grown up on a tenanted farm in the village, decided to return home with his family after 20 years working overseas. He had spotted the potential of the farmstead where he used stack straw bales as a boy, and persuaded the landowner, Halifax Estates, to sell it to him.
Ric Blenkharn was hired due to his experience in sympathetically bringing modern architecture to conservation areas. He and the owner worked together to develop a vision for the site.
The new-build property is linked to the old barns via a single-storey glazed link, which allows the historic brick buildings to be more visible.The project took four years from inception to completion with WA Hare & Son of Kelfield as main contactor. The owner keen to use local suppliers and artisans on the project and to “showcase Northern talent”.
The build started with the restoration of the two barns. One had significant subsidence and cracking, was taken down and rebuilt. The main house building was based on a steel frame on a large raft foundation. The first floor was constructed on a beam and concrete block design to support the underfloor heating. A tall crane was required to lift the steel beams and oak roof trusses into place and attracted a lot of attention in Heslington. The roof was heavily insulated and finished with zinc sheeting.
The double height internal wall was laid in handmade bricks, which was a significant task given their natural irregularities.
Helmsley-based Bisca constructed the helical staircase, which was extremely heavy. The property’s steel beams required reinforcement to handle the torsion, while the curved glass balustrade pushed Bisca’s glass supplier to its limits.
The enormous glass windows and doors also required careful handling. The single pane at the rear of the entrance hall required eight people to manoeuvre into place.
The Longhouse was completed 23 months after receiving planning permission in January 2016, and 15 months after starting construction in August 2016.
The Longhouse team and suppliers were: Architect, Ric Blenkharn, Bramhall Blenkharn Architects; Nick Hare of WA Hare & Son of Kelfield; Bisca staircases, Helmsley; The Sebastian Cox designed kitchen was manufactured by DeVol; large aluminium framed windows were sourced from Robert Edwards in Sherburn-in-Elmet; handmade bricks came from Lancashire Brick; the greenhouse was supplied by Hartley Botanic from Oldham; the zinc roof is by Varla Cladding of York; Bathrooms Direct of Barnsley sourced bathroom fixtures; Plumbing and heating was installed by Joe Beevers and colleagues, overseen by Dave Tomlinson at HF Brown of Hemingborough; Morton Brothers (MBL) of Sherburn-in-Elmet did all electricals and lighting design; tiling was by Alan Harrison of Harrogate; Painting by Paul and Adam Johnson of Crosby Painting; Plastering by Michael Walsh from Burn; Oak post cladding by Derwent Vale from Malton; Andrew Williamson of Vertigrow York undertook landscaping and supplied plants and trees; Reclaimed granite cobbles came from West Yorkshire and the York stone flags had originally been part of a floor in a hall in Guisborough.