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Merz Barn Project

A contemporary vision to bring new life to a site of creative & cultural heritage

A new rural contemporary art space and community hub to continue the legacy of pioneering Modernist artist Kurt Schwitters and bring a site of extraordinary artistic significance back to life. The on-going project development has been presented at Tate Britain in a symposium for national and international stakeholders.


We were appointed as part of a multi-disciplinary consortium to develop a vision for the future of the Merz Barn project, a site of extraordinary cultural heritage. The team’s brief was to optimise and consolidate the creative, cultural, public, environmental and educational potentials of the vast Cylinders Estate.


Our proposals focused on the new build elements- a series of “Merz Sheds”- a collection of  multi-purpose arts and events spaces, some permanant, some temporary. The interventions



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Due to the highly sensitive nature of the site, steeped in architectural and artistic heritage as well natural beauty, the design of the “Merz Shed” has been carefully considered to provide a new intervention in a contemporary, imaginative yet humble way.  By reinstating a structure where an agricultural shed once stood, it creates a distinct point of arrival and orientation within the expansive site, and provides a welcoming and collaborative environment for people to gather. 



The form, scale and materiality was developed through careful studies of the characterful stone farm buildings on the site, and reinterprets their architectural language in a fresh way. A double-height internal courtyard is filled with tall “trunk-like” columns, creating a moment of drama as visitors are orientated towards the key view of the Merz Barn.


This larch structure, felled from the site, evokes the experience of the dense woods around, whilst providing an adaptable framework when dividing the space for changing uses. In the spirit of the “Merz” artworks, it is envisaged that the timber columns are not pristine elements, but will become worn and characterful with use over time. 

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