Renovation Diary

The Inspiration for The Stacked Barn

published Jul 29, 2016
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(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Welcome to The Stacked Barn project where I lead you through a year-long odyssey that I’ve never been on before: the building of a new house. I’m going to show you how my new home gets built – step by step. This is Chapter Three.

I’ve always loved my old house and didn’t want to change the layout too much, but I definitely wanted to use my design chops to figure out how to make it work EVEN better. When you’ve lived a long time in a home, you really get to know it and exactly what sort of changes you’d like to make.

I also wanted to make it simpler in design, so that it no longer looked like a suburban house and more like a shingled barn, which are totally native to this part of Long Island. I was also inspired by the long barn shaped museum that Herzog de Meuron had designed for the Parrish Art Museum in Southhampton (pictured below).

(Image credit: Covet & Lou)

I loved the long, lean shape and the fact that – apparently – they settled on the shape due to very tight budget restraints. In other words, I was inspired to build a beautiful, simple barn like house because it would keep the costs way down. Less is more! At least that’s where I started out…

(Image credit: Parrish Art Museum)

Then I was taken by a very related barn language that I discovered comes from Scandinavia: simple shapes clothed in BLACK. I love the next few images which took my idea for a new barn even further.

(Image credit: Rasmus Norlander)
(Image credit: NORD Architecture)
(Image credit: Joachim Belaieff )

The house we were designing, however, was to have a full second floor which made it taller than the old house and probably taller than those above. As soon as we explored this new height we immediately ran into zoning restrictions that had become much stricter since the 1960’s (when the original house was built) and it required John Berg (architect) and myself to do some creative thinking. It was John who came through with a brilliant solution that was to define the Stacked Barn. The inspiration? Vitra’s main campus offices in Germany!

(Image credit: Vitra)

ALSO designed by Herzog de Meuron, these were the original Stacked Barns and John came up with the idea of turning the second floor into a separate barn that would live cantilevered on a 90 degree angle to the downstairs floor. This is what happened…

The Very First Plans

July, 2015

These were John’s original plans back in July of last summer:

(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)

Now it would have been nice to totally cantilever the upper barn over the bottom barn, BUT the steel involved in making that successful would have been too expensive for this project. ONE cost savings, but many more to add and subtract as I soon learned!

(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)

The Latest Plans

July, 2016

(Image credit: John Berg)

And now, a full year later, building has begun (I’ll show you that next) and the plans have solidified, BUT we have to make changes every week as we come upon problems or notice that something that looked great on paper doesn’t translate to the physical space.

(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)
(Image credit: John Berg)

Digging For The Foundation

May, 2016

Next time I’ll show you the very beginning of the build, when it all got dirty, and I mean dirty. I’ve never seen so much dirt in my life!

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)


Architect: John Berg, Berg Design Architecture
Contractor: Peter Germano