Completion of the Blair Barn House, Blair, WI

Alchemy loves barns! The Blair Barn House celebrates the straightforward utilitarian nature intrinsic to farm life by taking its clues from classic 19th century big barns and updating them for the sustainable priorities of the 21st century.

Alchemy's goal was to build a modern design acceptable in a rural community where families have lived for generations. Priorities included:
- barn siding with filtered barn light
- few, but large, openings
- an open-and-under space in the main living area, reflecting the traditional barn hay loft space and granary floors
- a nod to farm technology
- respect of a farmer's common sense approach to the seasons and tasks

Together with clients and colleagues, Geoffrey Warner put together a program of creating a full-time house with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and adequate storage. Locally harvested 4/4 rough-sawn white oak creates a rainscreen as an exterior skin. Inside, the client (a furniture designer) wrapped walls with assorted salvaged hard woods that accentuate floating masses and passageways.The project is 2600 gross SF, with 1850 finished SF. It utilizes a geothermal heating system, passive solar/sun shading and the strategic placement of windows for reduced heat loss. A concrete thermal mass floor integrates infloor heat.

The warped west facade gives nod to the graceful, aging grey barn neighbor, and hosts great sliding porch doors. Inside, ropes and pulleys operate lights and doors. Outside, awnings of steel and cable provide for adjustable light infiltration.

This project was completely site built by Empire Development and Building in Onalaska, WI. Build costs ran approx. $360K (including geothermal).