Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the project embraces the modernity and benefits of its engineered timber superstructure whilst sympathetically reflecting the Village's existing traditional buildings.

About this project

Located just a few yards from the beach in the fairy tale village of Thorpeness on England's Suffolk coast, the new Barnhall offers visitors the opportunity to eat, shop and even take their holidays at the very centre of this world renowned village.

Replacing the original Estate Office, or 'town hall', which was badly decaying and over the years had been considerably altered, Barnhall is designed as a ‘cluster’ of five separate buildings arranged over two storeys. On the ground floor there is Thorpeness Emporium - a bustling Antique & Collectables market which is home to 29 local small businesses and the adjacent Café & Restaurant ‘The Kitchen @ Thorpeness’, which serves seasonal and locally sourced food. Upstairs are ten studio ‘boltholes by the sea’ – cleverly designed, contemporary holiday apartments which are designed with ‘small-space living’ in mind. The apartments are fully fitted and open plan with clearly defined kitchen, dining, living and sleeping areas.

“I wanted to give the village a new and functioning building that is relevant and would do justice to the wonderful location.” Says owner and designer-developer Tom Brent who purchased Barnhall in 2005. “Somewhere pleasant for people to meet and spend time – not just visitors to Thorpeness, but the people who live and work in the village and surrounding areas as well as in the building itself.”

Thorpeness was created in the early 20th century by the wealthy Ogilvie family as a private holiday retreat and was inspired by family friend, JM Barrie's, classic children's novel Peter Pan.  It is built around the 'Meare', a magnificent man made boating lake and islands set in more than 100 reclaimed marshland acres. The new Barnhall has been turned around so that it faces due west and looks out towards the stunning views of the Mear.  These westward views can now be fully enjoyed by diners wishing to eat in Barnhall’s outdoor garden space and by those holidaying in the apartments above, nine of which come with a private balcony or terrace.

Use of Timber

The Community’s wishes that the new Barnhall should not appear too contemporary influenced the visual specification of the materials used in the cladding of the building. The resulting building succeeds in embracing the modernity and benefits of its engineered timber superstructure made from CLT whilst sympathetically reflecting the Village's existing traditional framed timber buildings.

Images: Judy Goldhill and French+Tye

Key contacts




Tom Brent 

Main Contractor

Urban Resolve Ltd

Timber Contractor & Engineer


Timber supplier

Stora Enso

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