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How this 18th-century English barn transformed into a modern smart home

Forget Pottery Barn — this updated second home is known as the Ancient Party Barn. Originally an 18th-century threshing barn (threshing is the process by which cereal is separated from the chaff), U.K. architecture firm Liddicoat and Goldhill transformed the structure into a residence for digital designer John Sinclair and fashion designer Deborah Harvey, who collect salvaged architectural artifacts.

The buildings — the barn, stables, and dairy — on Staple Farm in Kent, England were in disrepair. The firm worked to salvage what they could and turn the barn into a home away from home for the couple. Though they wanted to maintain the “barn’s brooding presence,” according to the architects, they added modern amenities like a ground-source heat pump, LED lamps, and security systems. The lights, HVAC system, and security systems are all Internet-connected, so the owners can monitor their barn when they travel. There’s also a fireplace built into the spiral staircase, that leads up to the mezzanine sleeping area.

The most impressive part of the barn is how it transforms. It has insulated shutters that can be pulled back to reveal a rotating window that goes up and down, sort of like a glass garage door. It’s operated by an adapted chain-lift. There’s also an aircraft-hanger door that flips up to overhang the patio. These features allow the homeowners to take advantage of the farm’s scenery.

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“The original green oak framing was in a state of near-collapse at the start of the project,” the architects explain on their site. They had it repaired, and the barn now has a insulated steel exoskeleton supporting the oak framing.

The barn was shortlisted for the Stephen Lawrence National Architecture Award, and the renovation cost over $682,000 (£480,000), according to Designboom.