By appointment to her majesty the queen - manufacturer of steel framed buildings A.C Bacon Engineering Ltd

FAB Awards - Shortlisted entry 3

Rose Builders - Agrii Training building

The training and office building at Throws Farm, Nr Great Dunmow, Essex, forms part of a comprehensive redevelopment of an agricultural research and development technology centre and working farm for a leading Agronomy Company, Agrii.

The other buildings constructed in the development comprise functional buildings for the storage and processing of grain, machinery, etc, and accordingly, have the appearance of agricultural/industrial-style buildings.

The training and office building has a much higher profile, being the focal building for visitors to the site, in particular those attending conferences and training courses.

The building is also the most visible element of the development from the principal vantage points approaching the site along the main Braintree Road from the East and West.

The training and office building is attached to the original farmhouse, which is of traditional design with a tiled pitched roof and principally brick external walls. It has been designed to reflect the appearance of a traditional Essex barn, with contemporary elements and a subservient link to the existing farmhouse. The building incorporates a complex structural frame in order to achieve the large internal clear-span rooms, in particular the training/conference room, and also to provide the necessary support for the multiform roof design. The subservient link between the main bulk of the building and the existing farmhouse provides separation to ensure that the building is visually distinct from the farmhouse, but with design features and materials which identify the building as unmistakably part of an agricultural building complex.

The building is finished externally in black timber boarding to reflect the traditional Essex barn aesthetic, with substantial glazed panels framed in black powder coated aluminium and a terracotta tile-effect sheeted roof finish.

The mass of the building is broken down by the incorporation of the variety of different roof forms, with gables and hipped elements continuing the theme of the Essex barn, with extensive glazing used in the subservient link to accentuate the separation of the building from the existing farmhouse and contribute a contemporary element to the development.

The site benefits from substantial existing mature landscaping, to the extent that the building appears to be in a parkland setting when viewed from the principal vantage points.

The sophisticated and attractive south-facing aspect of the building to some extent conceals its "operational face" housing the offices of the team who carry out the trials operations and research and development functions centred around the other farm buildings within the Throws Farm complex.

Agricultural research has been carried out at Throws Farm since the 1960's and is a name recognised by farmers up and down the UK. Agrii has now made an investment of several £m's to re-develop the Throws Farm Research Centre. As the centre for Agrii's national research programme, Throws is a vital organisational base, a trials farm in its own right and crucially a major communication resource. Agrii farmer Clients and Agrii Agronomists visit Throws to hear about the latest research from presentations in the Conference Room. They also come to see the actual trials conducted on the farm, some 50,000 trial plots are managed by the Agrii Research Team from Throws. Amongst the objectives of the re-development at Throws was to make the Farm facilities fully fit for purpose but as importantly to create a centre where the buildings are not only functional and in keeping with their surroundings but that would also pass the close scrutiny of their many farmer Clients who are rightly critical judges in how well this work was done. The new Throws Farm succeeds in all these objectives.

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