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Characteristics and appearance Of Farm Buildings

Updated on August 17, 2010

This is for all of us who live in or visit the countryside and care about its appearance; this hub will be of particular interest to farmers.

The landscape we inherit is the work of many generations of men engaged in agriculture. IT has always reflected changed in farming methods, and the speed of change has never been greater than it is now. Changing farming methods are reflected in changing buildings and new buildings reflect new technologies.

Agriculture is a great national industry that must have modern buildings but they need not be ugly. Designs and sited with concern both of their purpose and also for their surroundings, they can usually be fitted harmoniously in the landscape.

Change of scale in landscape.

Farm buildings are seen as part of the familiar countryside pattern of cottages, trees, and fields, and the observer becomes accustomed to a range of relative sizes usual to the area. By scale, in this context is meant this relationship in size between objects, natural and manmade in the landscape.

The technological revolution is causing dramatic change in scale. This already evident in the large structure which now have to be built in the countryside. Some typical examples are shown here. As the size of these increases, so does their inevitable impact on the landscape. Good design and siting become more and more important.

Until recently the pattern of farming has been on a small scale and the buildings have been largely not noticeable because of their limited size and traditional materials.

Just as the scale of our towns have changed with larger and taller buildings, so big structures are also becoming a new feature of the countryside: cooling towers, power stations, motorways, pylons, cement works, airports, radar installations.

The scale of the landscape is being changed by the enlargement of fields to enable full use to be made of the most up-to-date mechanized methods of farming.

Farming is also changing its scale of operations and needs bigger units, bigger fields, more especially bigger buildings to house more activities under cover; efficient organization of work calls for large floor areas.

In many places the farm is ceasing to be picturesque huddle of buildings around and subordinate to farmhouse, village and church. The buildings become dominant rather than casual incidents in the landscape.

The problem is that efficient farming also requires bigger buildings, greater covered areas and large structures of a scale and shape which is thus far unfamiliar to the countryside.

This change in scale is imposed by modern needs. The aim should be to accept the challenge and make the best of new; not to oppose progress because it involves unfamiliar problems.

The Buildings

A. Factory made components

Traditional building particularly in rural areas can be expensive and the farmer when requiring new buildings is now likely to find it economical to use a high proportion of factory made components.

According to his requirements he can, at one extreme, purchase a completely equipped specialist building where every details is under control of the manufacturer and at the other purchase units and erect his own minimum cost shelter

There is no reason why factory made components should not produce durable, efficient, and handsome building which will form acceptable addictions to the landscape.

Nor is there any reason why good design should increase the original price and it will certainly save money later by cutting down operational and maintenance costs.

A typical factory made farm building consists of a structural frame selected from a range of standard sized and clad with walls and roofs of materials appropriate to the use required.

This structure must be clean and straightforward and the whole building easy to erect. Component parts must fit easily and snugly to be readily replaceable.

The fixing of cladding and fitting, the junctions of doors and windows must be thought out was a part of a design problem. Initial design should avoid maintenance problems, fragile material should now be used at low levels.

There is a limit to the ability of traditional building methods and materials to meet present day demands.

Extensive use of factory made parts including particularly the structural framework is the only practicable method of producing the necessary range and number of adaptable durable buildings.

B. Choice of building

Materials have to be chosen principally for their strength, functional efficiency and cost; structural frames of steel, concrete or timer components are commonly used and all can be good looking as well as strong. The choice of building is wide and proportions of the frame and the pitch of the roof should be chosen to relate to existing buildings, to present a clean silhouette and to contribute to the whole group of farm buildings, new and old.

In present day farming, methods change and the profitability of enterprise fluctuates. The farmer’s choice will therefore also be influence to a degree by his foresight of the future. He will weigh initial costs against how easily the buildings can be adapted, extended or dismantled and erected and what maintenance difficulties are likely to arise.

If well designed from the outset there is no reason why factory made buildings should not be good looking as well as efficient and economical.
If well designed from the outset there is no reason why factory made buildings should not be good looking as well as efficient and economical.

When choosing a suitable walling material to avoid unnecessary damage and maintenance troubles the farmer must know what standards of strength, insulation, etc., are required. Light weight sheeting will not perform the same functions as a brick concrete wall. The choice of materials for different purposes will have an important effect on the design and appearance of the building.

Changes can be rung on new claddings and traditional materials to create effect of color, tone and texture, highlighting or modifying the architectural features of the building. In most parts of the countryside, buildings are more compatible with the landscape, if they have dark color of tone.

Certain parts, however, of the countryside are lighter in tone and there the buildings can be lighter in color. It is possible to obtain nearly all the normally used building materials in a variety of colors and finishes.

In order to make a building fit in with its surroundings, shades varying from browns, through grayish browns, gray-greens and grays to near blacks, depending on its sitings, are most useful.

Patched or botched work and the use of makeshift structures unsuited to the job is inefficient, unsightly and uneconomical.

All these photographs show examples of good detailing and the use of light materials in the right places. A satisfactory result depends on careful attention to these points and upon acceptance of the fact that a little extra initial cost can save a lot of money on maintenance later.

asbestos sheeting
asbestos sheeting
The use of different patterns of asbestos cement sheeting provides contrast and interest. The bold patterning is appropriate to large surfaces.

Timber pole farmhouse
Timber pole farmhouse

A straightforward design for quantity production using timber pole construction.

A farm building showing the neat finish and skillful junctions obtainable by thoughtful use of standard materials. Shadows cast by individual members will help to emphasize the architectural shape of the buildings.

This yard and silo barn with its low pitch, wide span, neat woodwork, and ramp has something to the elegance of a bridge.

The bold use of simple components in wood, asbestos cement and brick produces a clean efficient looking building.

Careful detailing of a corner showing recessed rainwater pipes and the use of appropriate materials at different heights. A perfect modern farmhouse.


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    • FuzzyCookie profile image

      FuzzyCookie 7 years ago

      Hi NamVetRich, I am glad that you enjoyed reading this hub. :)

    • NamVetRich profile image

      NamVetRich 7 years ago from Springfield Oregon

      Fuzzy Cookie, sure glad I checked out your hub site. You did and awesome job, your writing and choice of pics really make this hub one of my favorites. Would like to be one of your fans. Bravo to you!!!!!