After being donated to a nearby church, this beautiful old Madison County barn didn't have much of a future aside from being torn down. As parts of the barn slowly disappeared, its structure was exposed and it immediately captured our attention. We unofficially adopted the barn and began documenting, photographing, and diagramming the structure over the course of weeks and months. Instead of collapsing the barn, we decided to cover the barn in translucent plastic and light it from within to produce the images that you see here.
The wood-framed barn is one of the true vernacular archetypes in Arkansas and the Ozarks. This project became the manifestation of a desire to honor what remains of a historic barn in Hindsville. Celebrated by local artist George Dombek through his prolific watercolor paintings, barns prove to be an influence on and icons of daily life in rural Arkansas. They are given reverence by late local architect Fay Jones through references to construction type and open-truss design in Thorncrown Chapel. Here at deMx architecture, barns have been the precedent for many of our modern buildings.
A beautiful example of vernacular architecture, where form and function are inextricably connected, this barn stands as a legacy. What remains of the structure reveals the integrity of the barn's original construction and holds a beauty all its own. Now open to the sky, the roof's cascading rhythm of rafters creates a lofty, cathedral-like space. Other elements, such as the hay loft, windows, and doors, represent the very specific functions of the building and compose an unabashedly frank and honest facade.
Our investigative intent was to document the barn in a way that would highlight the beauty of its original construction. It was important that our installation not take away from or hide the barn's character, but enhance it. The design solution we came to was simple and subtle. We decided to "replace" the missing areas of the outer shell with a translucent plastic, on both the walls and the roof. In doing so, a lantern-like effect was created that, when illuminated, would transform the barn into a softly glowing beacon; its structural skeleton striking crisp lines through a glowing veil.