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Concrete ‘amoeba’ emerges from barn reclaimed as artist’s studio and home

The concrete extension features an indoor tropical garden

San Francisco and Oslo-based practice Mork Ulnes Architects has breathed new life into a derelict wooden barn in Sebastopol, California, transforming it into an artist’s studio, office, and home using adaptive re-use strategies in its construction. Conceived as two distinct but complementary spaces, the main, 2,500-square-foot barn studio appears to give birth to the organically-shaped "Amoeba," a 720-square-foot concrete kitchen and dining area that incorporates pockets of an indoor tropical garden.

The studio preserves the shape of the original barn but has inverted the traditionally-pitched roof to create an asymmetrical "butterfly"-shaped one instead, establishing double-height spaces that can accommodate art production and storage. 100-year-old wood from the old barn has been reclaimed and used as siding for the new structure.

Emerging from the back of the house, the indoor-outdoor, all-weather concrete pavilion snakes into the yard. The glazed front wall opens up onto the landscape, while a large, central diffuse skylight brings in the sunshine through the flat, exposed-wood, scissor-beam roof. Eight-inch-thick s-curved cement walls provide sufficient insulation. Take a look around. Mork Ulnes also designed the Trollhus, a ski chalet in Lake Tahoe.