The Albion Barn’s Library Was Born Out of a Larger, Art-Related Mission

This English barn-turned literary and art escape is serious #readinggoals.

Finding a quiet space to read can be difficult for even the most die-hard of book enthusiasts, which is why the Albion Barn library is such a major win for readers everywhere.
Located in Oxfordshire, England, the Albion Barn is part of Old Belchers Farm, a 17th-century property containing barns and cottages that would make one think of Shakespeare and Tudors and...yeah, you get the picture. Oxfordshire is clearly a place where good things happen.
The barn was designed by Studio Seilern Architects, a London-based firm, and construction was completed in 2013. The barn’s rehab was part of a larger project to convert old farmhouse buildings on the Old Belchers Farm property into art galleries. A worthy cause, to be sure.
“It is in this residential setting that the owner of the property wished to establish a contemporary art centre, displaying his own collection and installing shows within a more domestic and intimate setting than the typical industrial lofts of the urban commercial gallery,” Studio Seilern Architects states on its website. “The grounds became a place of exhibition allowing the art collection to spill into nature.”
As part of the rehab, a stunning little library within the Albion Barn was born—one that houses an enviable art book collection.
The Albion Barn consists of offices, exhibition areas and a common space that wrap around the library, according to a 2016 Curbed Report.
"While the galleries are pared-down in design, the library is somewhat whimsical," Studio Seilern Principal Christina Seilern told Dezeen in 2016.
To be sure, any book-centric structure may seem whimsical to the non-reader, but to the reader, the Albion Barn library is clearly the place to be. The space itself is beautifully designed. Light beige floors and shelves, plus an overhead light, give an airy feel to this windowless structure. The shelves are broken up into small cubby-hole-like segments, leading to a clean look that doesn’t look overcrowded. This is indeed a space in which to study and reflect and focus.
“The library is conceived as the focus of the building, a transitional and pivotal space between the private and public spaces,” Studio Seilern Architects states on its website. “The idea was that once inside the library, one should feel fully surrounded by books, rather than walls. The space is galleried, and the ceiling mirrored, giving the sense that the library extends vertically into infinity. The illusion is then broken by an oversized pink skylight, puncturing the ceiling into a deep void, giving a soft and warm natural glow to the books. The four walls are covered in full height bookshelves, within which four secret doors have been integrated. When closed, the space seems to have no exit, and one is fully immersed in this extensive and wondrous art book collection.”
Fully immersed, indeed. Few reading spaces can boast giving an all-encompassing atmosphere, which may seem claustrophobic to the book-averse, but for the true book lover, this wouldn’t be a problem at all.
The four doors are very well-ensconced into the structure, as can be seen in videos. They’re almost hidden, giving a Narnia-like sense whenever you open one.
It’s not clear whether any furniture has been added to this space for maximum reading enjoyment. Here at ESTATENVY, we sure hope someone gets to be cozy in here and enjoy their book(s) in peace and tranquility. Personally, we’d settle for a vintage-y but comfortable fainting couch with extra cushion. Or a beanbag. As long as there’s a book in hand, we’re happy either way.