Plans to use Japanese technique at barn

02 July 2018

Ambitious plans to use an ancient Japanese technique at a barn in Oxfordshire that preserves wood by charring it with fire have been submitted to Cherwell District Council.

Rowland Bratt and his wife, Diane, want to convert an agricultural barn into a residential home in Bodicote, near Banbury.

The farmer, who constructed the original barn in 1999, has secured funding to build the five-bedroom dream home which will include the Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban.

Rowland said he had been discussing the plans with architects the Roger Coy Partnership in Eydon, Daventry, since 2014 and revised proposals had been submitted to Cherwell District Council in January this year.

“There are many attractions to using Shou Sugi Ban which literally means burnt cedar board,” he said.

“The Japanese have used it for centuries throughout their construction history and it protects the boards against fading so they stay black. It also protects the cladding against fungus attack, insect attack and significantly reduces the fire risk because if you try to burn something that is already charred it is difficult to get it to light again due to carbonisation.

“I have researched this thoroughly and it is a long process to do the cladding as it involves quite a few stages but once it has been done, it won’t need painting again and it should last the lifetime of the building.

“We plan to use Shou Sugi Ban architecturally rather than in the construction and it will be a tremendous feature of the barn.

“The idea is to have this large mass of cladding which will silhouette against the background and we are going to be careful with the choice of windows. They will probably have a dark tint so that they look dark and in keeping with the cladding.”

Rowland said the plans had changed since he initially contacted the Roger Coy Partnership and it was exciting to submit the new proposals.

“We have put forward new plans because we have decided to make some fundamental changes to the building,” he said.

“We would like the windows to be below the roof line because we have been advised architecturally it will make the barn work better.

“We are also planning not to build right to the edges of the barn and one of the gable ends will be glazed from top to bottom and there will be a feature staircase.

“My career has been spent in agriculture and this has been such a big project that we had to make sure we had all the funding in place before we can start the work.”

Luke Abbott, architect and director at the Roger Coy Partnership, said this has been a really interesting project to work on.

“I first met Rowland in 2014 and then after a topographical survey, we really started work on the plans in 2016,” he said.

“It is highly unusual for a barn to feature Shou Sugi Ban which makes it stand out from other residential barns. “It will be really striking and add to the architectural interest in the property. We anticipate it will take a year to carry out the work since every aspect of the building will be to a high standard.”