Bureau de Change transforms Cotswolds chicken shed into bucolic family home

long house bureau de change
London based studio Bureau de Change completes Long House, a new-build, private home in Cotswolds.
(Image credit: Gilbert Mccarragher)

When it comes to re-purposing a building typology – an old wharf into apartments for instance – we dare say a chicken shed would not be the first template you’d reach for when designing a family home.

Hats off then to the London-based Bureau de Change (headed by Katerina Dionysopoulou and Billy Mavropoulos) for stitching together the elongated silhouettes of two chicken sheds to create a house, whose 30m long volume seeps with light and yet possesses an admirable structural sturdiness.

Located along a quiet village lane in the Cotswolds’ Ampney St Mary, the house disappears into the landscape – so seamless is the architects’ work in fitting together the rugged façade of timber and Cotswold stone with its bucolic setting.

The front and lower section of the house

(Image credit: TBC)

The front and lower section of the house is sheathed with dry stone walls, but for the windows in the slightly loftier rear volume, shou sugi ban – the Japanese technique of weather-proofing wood – was used to char the larch panels to a deep leathery black, after which the burn was steel brushed away to create an ombré effect.

The glazing is minimised and concentrated around the internal courtyard – a bijou cocoon of calm and light that was cut out of the front volume and hidden behind the elevation – so that it does not interrupt the heavier, almost monolithic lines.

This, along with other gestures – including using local craftsmen and materials, and carefully framing the windows around bucolic views – have created a house that the architects say is crisp and new, and yet feels embedded in the land. As if it’s always been there.

‘This is a house with a very functional character,’ says lead architect Mavropoulos, ‘but it also has that element of surprise, which is key in our work.’ Which is as good a reason as any for the chicken to cross the road.

long house bureau de change courtyard

(Image credit: TBC)

long house bureau de change exterior

(Image credit: TBC)

long house bureau de change closeup

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long house bureau de change roof

(Image credit: TBC)

long house bureau de change side view

(Image credit: TBC)

long house bureau de change view out

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long house bureau de change interior

(Image credit: TBC)

long house bureau de change living space

(Image credit: TBC)



Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.