Durslade farmyard, 1960s, courtesy of the Gilling Family

Durslade Farm – Farm to Gallery

Durslade Farm looks like a typical Somerset farm, surrounded by fields and stone walls. It was originally built by the Berkeley family as a ‘model farm’ with unique architectural details adorning the buildings, some of which date from as early as c. 1760.

About The Architecture
Durslade Farm looks like a typical Somerset farm, surrounded by fields and stone walls. It was originally built by the Berkeley family as a ‘model farm’ with unique architectural details adorning the buildings, some of which date from as early as c. 1760. This type of farm benefitted from the advancements that had been made in agriculture, which informed the farm’s layout, efficiency and agricultural techniques. During the 18th century, the large cross-barn which now forms the main gallery was once where villagers would trade vegetables or animals as tithes (the equivalent of paying tax). Durslade continued to operate as a farm, into the 20th century but it soon declined following World War 2. Hauser & Wirth Somerset is the restoration of the farm, with the addition of new builds to create a, ‘Special place where we could bring all our interests together: art, architecture, landscape, conservation, gardening, food, education, community.’ Iwan Wirth, May 2014

Who has been involved in the development? Laplace & Co
Luis Laplace was born and educated in Buenos Aires. He graduated from the Universidad de Belgrano with a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Architecture & Urbanism. After a short period working in Argentina, Luis moved to New York where, from 1999 to 2004, he worked for Selldorf Architects, an architectural practice well known for its devotion to modern design, particularly in art- related projects.

Piet Oudolf
The development of Hauser &  Wirth  Somerset  at  Durslade  Farm  includes  working  alongside  the celebrated Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf. Piet Oudolf was born in 1944 in Haarlem. He is an internationally-renowned landscape designer from the Netherlands. Oudolf has received many high profile commissions around the world, including working with the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2011. Oudolf has designed the landscaping scheme all around Durslade Farm, as well as Oudolf Field with its vast areas of perennial plantings.

Artist's impression of Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Image: Laplace & Co.

What are the main inspirations?
The original farm inspired the development of the farm site into a gallery complex. It has involved the renovation of the existing built barns and accentuating the main Threshing Barn. Two new wings, connecting the Cowsheds at one end and the Piggery at the other, create a continuous internal space and an enclosed external courtyard. The architect was inspired by the traditional architecture in Somerset, especially the cloister, like the one in Wells Cathedral, as well as the idea of an architectural promenade; connecting the old with the new.

What themes are raised by the development?
The historic development of Durslade Farm and its collection of buildings suggests an organic approach, prioritising a mix of old and new. History and culture, as well as the landscape are strong themes here. The use of reclaimed materials reinforces a sense of place and history. The project draws attention to conservation, ecology and a concern for the contemporary.

What materials are used?
The materials echo the traditional nature and character of the historical buildings. New brick walls complement the colour of the existing sandstone, while pre-cast concrete lintels and jambs mirror the framing of existing doors and windows. The new zinc-clad roofs take on a different tone, emphasizing the contemporary character of the development.

Roth Bar & Grill
Converted from the old Cowsheds, the restaurant retains much of the building’s original character and interior detail. At its heart there will be a site-specific bar designed by artists Björn and Oddur Roth, son and grandson of the late German-born Swiss artist Dieter Roth. Inspired by the history of Durslade, the main idea behind this design is to eclectically mix agricultural and found objects in order to create an original and extemporary decoration.

Threshing barn. Photo: Aaron Schuman


The process and product of planning, designing and constructing a building.

A covered walk in a convent, cathedral or college, typically open on one side.

The preservation or restoration from loss, damage or neglect.

Taking ideas, style or taste from a broad range of sources or influences.

Lintel A horizontal support, made of timber, steel, stone or concrete across the top of a door or window.

Organic In architecture, this suggests working with or in response to living forms, and/or having a structure and a plan that fulfill perfectly the functional requirements for the building

To return an object or a material to its former or a better state or object.

Sustainable architecture describes environmentally conscious designs and use of materials.

Threshing Barn
A barn used for storing or processing a grain crop.  

Suggested Activities During Your Visit

Note: you will need to bring pencils and a sketchbook.

Activity 1
What is your favourite part of the building?

Activity 2
Old and new – how can the building materials help you to identify which building are old and which are new? How do their surfaces and colours differ?

Activity 3
Discuss the meaning of these key words in relation to your experience of Hauser & Wirth Somerset:





















Practical Activity Prompts and Ideas for Discussion Following Your Visit

Key Stage 1 and 2
Design and make your own house for a pet or toy

Key Stage 3
Visit other art galleries and museums; observe their different styles and when they were built. You could map your findings on a timeline.

Key Stage 4 and beyond
What is the difference between a gallery and a museum?  

Supplementary Research

Luis Laplace Create your own city Architecture games, facts and activities from Open House for kids Victoria and Albert Museum looking at Architectural styles of buildings