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Believe it or not, this barn, built 140 years ago in a mixed construction of brick masonry and timber, was actually an ultramodern, highly functional building in its own time.
But by the time Thomas Kroeger of Berlin-based firm Thomas Kroeger Architect came across it in the village of Fergitz, Uckermark, it was in "absolutely terrible condition."
"It was such a beautiful spot, yes," Kroeger conceded. "We'd come across it unexpectedly. But suitable for a home? No — it had to be reinvented."
With encouragement from his client, Kroeger got to work crafting plans to renovate the building. And that's how a 19th-century barn eventually became a colorful, cozy and ultimately unorthodox 21st-century country home.
Safety, at least, was a non-issue. The former cowshed was an extremely stable building with thick stone walls.
"It's actually difficult to see just how much we changed and added, which is my favorite part of the whole thing," Kroeger, whose firm was first established in 2001, told TODAY.com. "The materials we chose and the spatial concept worked well with the existing barn structure."
Still, whether or not you can notice, a dozen new amenities have been added with Kroeger's help. First, a double-height living room complete with a gorgeous fireplace was added.
The great hall is unheated, surrounded by a heated body of rooms. In the colder months, only those smaller and more sociable areas of the house can be used.
Right next to the hall, there's a slightly elevated living room and free-standing kitchen. The dining area is topped by a wooden pyramid. Upstairs and above the hall are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two studies and a loggia. There's also a guest bedroom and a lush private garden, and the walls of the heated rooms are insulated with clay plaster.
In the end, the converted cowshed is a modern marvel. But, as with any transformative architectural work, there's always a challenge. Merging the needs of a family of four while still respecting the older foundation proved difficult at first.
"I really wanted to avoid any visible changes from the outside and from the villagers' perspective while still transforming the space into something new," said Kroeger. "I did so by including a facade and a set of arches that open up the building to light, to the garden, and to the outside world without altering the outside space too drastically."
As for that fun modern furniture, half of it was planned out in advance and included in the initial design. The other half was selected by the client who will be residing in this new space.