A very tight €20,000 budget led BYRÓ architekti's finely crafted reconfiguration of the derelict Blacksmith Barn at Blanický Mlýn, Czechia, into a remote country getaway
With its only neighbours a former mill and sawmill, 80 miles south of the Czech capital in the deeply rural Blanice river valley, we encounter a pastoral foil to Horse House’s industrial nature. A former blacksmiths barn in Blanický Mlýn has been reconfigured as a lovely holiday home by Prague’s BYRÓ architekti, in part reconstructed by the client’s own hands – and all using locally-sourced materials.
Having inherited the derelict barn, part house and part forge, the owners approached their friends inthe practice to ask how the property, which had suffered numerous insensitive additions over the years, might be re-worked to create not just a usable workshop but a seasonal home and gathering space for their families. The architect’s response was to attempt to preserve the authenticity of the barn, while reversing the unsightly long dormer installed on the roof in the 1990s, using other means to get light deep into the space.
With a 280m2 space to work on and and only a tiny budget – around €20,000 – the limitations proved to be the project’s biggest boon, with any intervention needing to be highly targeted if expensive and very cheap if extensive. At ground, responding to positions of three pairs of barn doors, are entrance, living and storage zones, subtly denoted by low-cost hand-made open screens and space dividers that softly respect the original unity of the space.
Accessed by a new open timber stair, a mezzanine level houses makeshift bedroom spaces, a corridor giving views into double-height spaces. To get light into these areas, the architect removed the unsightly dormer and restored the original roof pitch, dotting the roof with corrugated plastic tiles emulating the original clay ones.
The architect claims this colander effect allows light to be suffused with ‘muted tones‘ of oak, terracotta, brick and stone, bringing a special quality to the barn space.
Together with an old trough used as a huge kitchen sink, and the DIY kitchen table, the interventions carry the imprimatur of craft, the new almost imperceptibly layered over the old, the whole marking the passage of time and human hands.