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 immediately captured our attention. We unofficially adopted the barn to begin documenting, photographing, and diagramming the structure over the course of weeks and months. Instead of collapsing it, we decided to cover it in translucent plastic to light from within.
The wooden-framed barn is one of the true vernacular archetypes in Arkansas and the Ozarks, and this investigative project became the embodiment to honor what remains of a historic barn in Hindsville. Celebrated by local artist George Dombek through his prolific watercolor paintings, barns are an influence of iconic of daily life in rural Arkansas. They are given reverence by late local architect, Fay Jones, through references to the construction type and open-truss design of Thorncrown Chapel. 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 of its own. Open to the sky, the roof’s cascading rhythm of rafters creates a lofty, cathedral-like space. Other elements – the hay loft, windows, and doors – represent the very specific functions of the building and compose an unabashed, 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, but to enhance the barn’s character. The design solution we came to was simple and subtle. We “replaced” the missing areas of the outer shell with a translucent plastic across both the walls and roof. 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.