Art Barn by Thomas Randall-Page. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2020

Art Barn / Thomas Randall-Page

From a nondescript cowshed, Thomas Randall-Page has, over a number of years, created the Art Barn – a serene studio-cum-archive for his sculptor father. The project will house Peter Randall-Page’s art archive

Architects: Thomas Randall-Page
Location: Devon, England
Photography: Jim Stephenson

A series of industrial-scale shutters in cedar and galvanized steel playfully fold and slide, revealing a complex, multi-layered space within a mute and unassuming exterior. Inside the vast day-lit gallery, a freestanding ‘creature’ stands on stone hooves. Known as the ‘Winter Studio’ this room-within-a-room is the project’s nerve center. It is wrapped in a dark cork and warmed by a wood-burning stove. Beyond its door, a balcony offers long views out through the tree canopy and across the valley. As the building is re-shuttered on departure, the balcony folds back flat, effortlessly becoming part of the wall again.

As you pass along the track, the full drama of the Teign Valley opens up before you, with the site sloping down to the river and a forest of conifers rising up on the other side.

The nave of the barn runs from front to back, where another pair of glazed doors open onto an idyllic patch of meadow. The soaring main space, laid with a polished concrete floor, makes an ideal ad hoc gallery. A mobile crane just fits through the doors, allowing the heaviest work to be moved around with ease. The east-west aspect provides subtle shifts in daylight, with an additional source coming through the original glass-reinforced plastic panels on the roof. These will be replaced with glass as finances permit.

Inside, the Winter Studio is a scented, ply-lined box. The intention, with Antonello’s painting Saint Jerome in his Study as a reference point, was to create a warm place where Randall-Page might think and draw. There are shelves for inspirational objects, such as shells and pebbles, and the small room is easily heated by a reconditioned Scandinavian stove. Double-glazed windows give views through the gallery to the outside and the whole box is cork-covered for extra insulation.

Celebrating Slow Architecture with Peter and Thomas Randall-Page via TOAST Magazine