Oak Farm / by Heather Sutton

Overview

Oak Farm in Liverpool was shortlisted for the 2005 RIBA Manser Medal prize. A private development by architect and co-founder of Urban Splash, Jonathan Falkingham, it consists of two buildings in one: a restored Grade II listed 17th century farmhouse linked via a two-storey glass walkway to a large contemporary sandstone construction.

HistoryJonathan and an associate bought the Oak Farm site which had been highlighted in a ‘stop the rot’ campaign by the Liverpool Echo. As well as the award-winning farmhouse, 3 more houses were created from late 18th / early 19th century outbuildings and a fifth is new build.

Oak Farm is thought to have been a late medieval yeoman farmstead whose original open hall had long since disappeared but a service wing, added around 1660, was stillstanding. Built of local red sandstone, this was to be the keystone of the award-winning design.

The project

Urban Splash and architects shedkm appointed Maysand to produce a schedule of works, then as masonry contractor for the project. “We had anywhere between two and six craftsmen on site for almost a year,” says Maysand’s masonry surveyor, Mick Fowles.

“Some elevations had to be chemically paint stripped, and all were cleaned with a mild chemical solution (to an approved sample) prior to being dismantled. Then the farmhouse was literally taken down, stone by stone, each one recorded and stored on a pallet. The farmhouse was rebuilt exactly, except for an opening on one elevation for a full height glass corridor to link the historic and the new build parts of the house.

Maysand also built the external and internal stone façades of the extension around a block work backing structure. The timber structure was left in place during the dismantling and repaired and cleaned by Maysand timber experts, so that it now forms a visual feature in the upstairs rooms.

“Oak Farm was a fantastic project,” says Mick. “Not just because it won an award, but because it was really satisfying for us to use so many of our specialist trades in one project, saving an almost derelict historic building and transforming it into something beautiful again — something that the client, Maysand and all the craftsmen can be tremendously proud of.”