Digital makeover of 17th century barns completes

7 August 2017 | By James Kenny

David Miller Architects (DMA) has completed the restoration of the Grade II-listed Anstey Hall Barns near Cambridge using cutting-edge digital construction techniques.

The £8m project has seen the barns, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, carefully designed and restored to blend seamlessly into their original environment, and stay true to their ancient Saxon structures.

DMA took on the project for Hill Residential and used state-of-the-art digital design, working with Hill Bespoke to develop and apply advanced digital construction techniques to deliver 12 individual uniquely designed homes.

The restored barns blend into the original environment

CLT structures were cut offsite and craned into position

Point cloud laser technology was used to create a scan of existing buildings on the site and the BIM model produced from it is used to take off bills of quantities without the need for an external quantity surveyor. Setting out is also done digitally, so reducing the cost of site engineers. 

By using these high-tech techniques the company was able to save tens of thousands of pounds by allowing the team to get things right first time and reduce the risks that often dog complicated historic conversions.

Lauren Westpfel, designer at DMA, said: “Modelling the complex buildings in 3D allowed us to accurately evaluate and plan the build using as much of the original structure as possible. This gave us accurate building cost forecasts and so greatly reduced the risk.”

The buildings were modelled in 3D

Having used cross-laminated timber (CLT) on the award-winning Mayfield School, DMA proposed using this method to speed up the time to create new floors and walls within the conversions. Using the digital model of the existing building, the CLT was cut offsite to fit exactly into the uneven structure and simply craned into place within a matter of a few days.

Mike Beckett, director of Hill Bespoke, commented: “Having gone some way to prove that the technology is wholly beneficial on this complex refurbishment project, we have now developed processes for production and delivery of all our future housing schemes.”

All images: David Miller Architects


The project has produced fantastic results and confirms that BIM is relevant to existing or ancient structures as well as modern designs for buildings and facilities. Great result

Mel Prichard, 9 August 2017

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