This Two-storey Barn Was Transformed Into A Home-office With A Very Unique Feature Many of us yearn to find a work, life balance that is flexible, that can grow with us and that allows us to be successful without having to give up any semblance of a home life. Studio Farris, a team of architects in Antwerp, new project, STABLE, have endeavoured to do just that. Concrete and wood come together to convert a space within a private property into a striking office: open plan and airy, with room to grow and space to create. What began as a small, two-floor, barn was converted into a singular-level concrete space, with the focal point being a wooden structure acting as steps, shelving and seating as it rose up toward the slanted ceiling and a second space for desks. Imposing and functional, the beams off set the clean, grey of the concrete and the square lines of the windows. They allow the owner to put their own mark on the building, using the various levels and nooks as storage, display cabinets, bookshelves or as stairs. Turning the staircase into a feature in the barn not only adds warmth to the cold concrete but opens up the space as one – it flows from top to bottom, allowing air – and ideas – to circulate freely. The outside too has had a makeover – the tired looking building was transformed from dishevelled to rustic, the large panes of glass placed at odd angles to each other, added a modern feel to the red brickwork. We spoke to the founder of Studio Farris Architects, Giuseppe Farris, about finding the balance in building and designing an adaptable office. The Plus: What was the brief for the project? Giuseppe Farris: This project is situated in a residential private property. It is part of a farm complex with several buildings. The owner wanted to have a small office detached from his house so he would be able to work from home at times. The stable was no longer in use so he decided to use it as his home-office. The original stable was composed of several small rooms on two floors. We wanted to experience the total form of the building so we demolished the rooms and the first floor. By emptying the volume, we had created a beautiful space, made out of concrete, with a serene atmosphere. We did not want to lose the perception of the whole volume by creating a new floor. We did not want to create enclosed spaces that could block views. So we decided to design a stepped object that could divide the space without blocking views or altering the perception of the whole volume. TP: What was the biggest challenge you faced during the project? GF: By emptying the volume inside it was possible to feel the whole space. It was a little bit like being inside a chapel. The challenge was for us to keep the feeling of the space while at the same time responding to all functional needs. TP: What about the design makes it works so well as an office? GF: The stepped wooden volume is designed to divide the space into three functional spaces. Underneath the mezzanine there is more privacy and is combined with bookshelves to organize meetings. On top of the mezzanine there is space for two desks and storage for folders, books, printers and you can work there with a fantastic view to the landscape and overview to the office without being enclosed in a room. All around the wooden volume you have place to store books and folders and to read or work in a informal way using the beams as seats or as bookshelves. TP: How did you find a balance between beauty and function? GF: I always think functionally but, I know that sometimes people think that something is not functional just because it looks different from what they are used to think is functional. TP: What materials did you use? GF: The floor, the ceiling, and the walls are in concrete while the furniture is wood. TP: What three words would you use to sum up the project? GF: Quiet, open, matter. TP: Do you prefer to design offices or homes? Why? GF: I don’t have any preference in designing things. I like to design everything. TP: Tell us a bit about Studio Farris Architects. GF: Studio Farris Architects was established in Antwerp (Belgium). I founded the office in 2008 and since then we have been growing quite fast. At the moment we are 12 people strong but we also do very large-scale projects. For example, in 2014 we completed the Park Tower (hi-rise tower of 360 units), in 2015 the City Library in Bruges, this year we will complete the project of the Antwerp Zoo.