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The past is brought to life; Converted farmhouse wins top award.

Byline: BY LARRY NEILD City Editor

OR more than a decade, 17th-century Oak Farm has stood derelict, a forgotten echo of the rural past of its surrounding area. But now the sandstone property in Allerton has been restored and has won a Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) Excellence Award.

The building, next to Springwood Crematorium, was spotted by Liverpool-trained architect Jonathan Falkingham, a founder of the award-winning regeneration company Urban Splash.

And, despite its decaying state, he immediately fell in love with the farm and made a bid for it.

Mr Falkingham worked with another city-trained architect, Amanda Wanner of Shed KM, to create the home, one of only five in the UK to win the prestigious RIBA award.

Now it has become his family home, with neighbours moving into the barns and outbuildings that have also been given a 21st century makeover.

Mr Falkingham said: 'The farmhouse building which is now my home was built in 1660, though when we were doing some of the excavation work there was evidence of an even older timber framed farmhouse that stood on the same site.

'At one time it was an extensive working farm, with its fields spreading across Allerton into Hunts Cross. In the 1940s the council bought the farm and its land to use as extensions to Springwood Cemetery. Some of the land was eventually used to create Hunts Cross Retail Park, but it was still being used for farming purposes in the 1980s.'

Mr Falkingham was born in Bradford and studied architecture at the University of Liverpool in the early 1980sHe founded Urban Splash with Tom Bloxham and the firm quickly became well known for rescuing old buildings and developing them into executive homes. apartments and office space.

The Liverpool Collegiate and the Matchworks, in Garston, are among their Liverpool successes Mr Falkingham also founded local architecture firm Shed KM.

In a citation, the RIBA judges said a carefully balanced and harmonious relationship which had been achieved between the old and new They added: 'It is modernist in the best sense of being simple and rational with attractive

Evidence of an even

older building

proportions, careful attention to detail and an assured integration with its site and new landscaped elements THE recently completed Brindley Arts Centre in Runcorn, designed by architects John Miller + Partners, also won a RIBA Excellence Award

What the judges had to say

THE essential diagram of Oak Farm is extremely clear, and this rigour is carried through into the internal organisation, choice of materials and detailing. A carefully balanced and harmonious relationship has been achieved between the old and new, with the two masonry elements both linked and separated by the glazed entrance hall. The use of the same stone for the extension creates continuity with the original farmhouse, while its minimal detailing ensures there is no competition between the elements.

The spatial arrangement of the interior is simple and effective. There is an economy of expression throughout, and the double height void of the entrance hall is all the more dramatic for being the only use of this volumetric device. Through a careful placement of elements, the circulation is subtle and understated.

The building is permeated with thoughtful and intriguing details which are meticulously designed and beautifully executed, utilising a limited palette of high quality materials.

Although in many respects a minimalist design, the choice of materials, in particular the warm Burmese teak (we were told from a sustainable source), generates a homely atmosphere not usually found in comparable examples.

Overall this project has an uncomplicated ease


Jonathan Falkingham and partner Nicole Lawrence in front of the property Picture: TONY KENWRIGHT; Architect Amanda Wanner in the main living area; and, right, a concrete reminder of the house's past
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 27, 2005
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