top of page


John Barr has completed a wide variety of projects in Japan and the U.K. Selected projects are illustrated below.

Hospital : Aichi Prefecture : Japan

This 160-bed psychiatric hospital caters for a range of patients, from those suffering from common, age-related illnesses to those categorised as high-risk. The projected grid of the facade reflects the individual patient rooms behind whilst providing shade to keep the interior cool in summer and generous balconies that allow patients to sit out. The extremely tight site is utilised to the full with  patient and staff gardens located on the roof.

High School : Mie Prefecture : Japan

The German architect Hans Scharoun suggested that school design should cater for a range of educational and social development needs that change with the age of the pupil. This senior high school caters for age group 17-19, young adults who require an environment in which to think, study and prepare to embark on their chosen career path, as well as spaces in which to relax and socialise.


The grid was adopted as an organising principle, using its qualities of proportion and rhythm to create a sedate environment in which to study, and broken where appropriate to create informal spaces for creativity and socialising.

Bath House : Yamaguchi Prefecture : Japan

In his essay In Praise of Shadows the Japanese novelist Jun'Ichiro Tanizaki extols the virtues of the Japanese use of shadow or, rather, the absence of light. He expands his theme to include the use of oblique or unseen sources of light and the use of gold to act as a subtle reflector of light in the darkness. This project explores these themes within a modern idiom. The bath house forms part of a development designed to provide community facilities and to attract visitors to this small, island town.

Transit Lounge : Kansai International Airport : Japan

The lounge provides rest and relaxation facilities for passengers during lengthy transits between international flights. The sweeping curvature of the ceiling reflects the roof of Renzo Piano's terminal building and fulfils a practical function. Large ducts running the entire length of the space are seamlessly accommodated behind the curve of the ceiling. The void above the ceiling is a mass of services, requiring a multitude of outlets. By creating separate ceiling panels and locating all outlets in gaps between them, the ceiling is kept free of the clutter often associated with this type of highly-serviced space.


Community Centre : Gifu Prefecture : Japan

This facility, for a small town in Gifu Prefecture, combines community health centre, environmental research and monitoring centre, and a theatre. This holistic approach provides for the physical, environmental and cultural health of the community. Passive solar gain, a large solar array and extensive use of local clay tiles all contribute to a reduction in both embodied energy and energy in use.

Psychiatric Hospital : Perth : UK

Although the hospital is set in the heart of rural Perthshire its high-security status precludes patients from having free access to the surrounding countryside, spending most of their time within areas that can be easily monitored by staff. The design incorporates a multitude of courtyards of varying size and character that provide generous amounts of natural light and external space to every occupied room.


Layout and fenestration are arranged to allow direct visual links with the surrounding countryside. Materials with low environmental impact are used and the design achieves BREEAM excellent rating.

In collaboration with macmon architects

Office Building : Glasgow : UK

A seven-storey office block in the heart of Glasgow city centre, a glass box wrapped in a masonry skin, the building reinforces the city grid and adopts materials found in the surrounding Georgian architecture.

In collaboration with gm+ad architects

House : Perthshire : UK

Reduction in carbon emissions is a global priority and great advances have been made in the design of new buildings. The bulk of energy-in-use demand now comes from older buildings. At the same time one of the best ways to reduce embodied energy is to re-use existing buildings. This project takes a modest and unfashionable bungalow and transforms it into a modern, energy-efficient home. No attempt is made to 'improve' external appearance. The design drivers are energy efficiency, which is pursued through passive techniques, and utility of internal planning.

Coffee Shop : Saitama Prefecture : Japan

This building was originally envisaged as a timber structure but the Japanese zoning regulations determined that the main supporting structure had to be concrete or encased steel. A hybrid construction was adopted, where two parallel concrete post and beam structures support lightweight steel roof trusses and a timber facade. The elements of construction are visually separated and offset, creating a layered structure and a set of subtle relationships that would have been absent in a more monolithic approach. The overhanging roof and timber louvres provide protection from the high, summer sun whilst allowing the low, winter sun to penetrate the interior.

Coffee Shop : Aichi Prefecture : Japan

Located on a busy intersection in downtown Nagoya this small building is designed to assert itself on the street so as to avoid becoming lost against the white noise of the Japanese urban background.

Wine Bar and Restaurant : Kobe : Japan

This restaurant and wine bar specialises in French wines grown and produced using natural methods. A limited palette of raw concrete and dark timber results in an interior that is as clean and simple as any traditional Japanese room, whilst a very few custom-designed elements add a touch of European decadence.

Exhibition Space : Nagoya : Japan

Hotel : Yamaguchi Prefecture : Japan

Oshima is one of the multitude of islands scattered across the Seto Inland Sea. The islands are fabled for their beauty and, with the decline of traditional industries, are turning to tourism to generate local employment. The project was funded jointly by public and private finance to act as a generator of tourist income and as an anchor to further development. Careful detailing is used to create a refined aesthetic whilst using materials and techniques readily available to local contractors working in this remote location.

Cake Shop : Yamaguchi Prefecture : Japan

The requirement to provide separate kitchen, retail and cafe within a small space is resolved at a stroke by carving a curved wall through the space. This results in a strong design that optimises the restricted space and creates discrete but visually linked areas for each function. 

Apartment Refurbishment : Osaka : Japan

The original plan of these ageing apartments consisted of deck access on the entry side and bedrooms on the balcony side, with living/kitchen/dining sandwiched between them as an internal space with no view and only borrowed light.

The new plan places the living areas on the outside wall, opening onto the balcony and, in an echo of the traditional Kyoto townhouse, creates a direct route from the entrance to the living area through a timber-lined corridor.

Public Forum : Nagoya : Japan

Shade trees and water provide a cool microclimate at the perimeter whilst a void at the centre creates a stack effect, pulling cooled air through the structure. Water covering the roof absorbs solar heat and is circulated to heat exchangers. A translucent, reactive external skin filters light, heat, air and information.

Interactive Square : Tsukuba Science City : Japan

War Memorial : Okinawa : Japan

Training Centre : Miyazaki : Japan

Regional Sales and Training Centre for one of Japan's leading tyre manufacturers. The facilities are housed in three distinct volumes to provide clear differentiation amongst the diverse functions of: Public Exhibition; Sales and Study; Training and Warehouse.

Pocket Hotel : Kobe : Japan

Located on a tight urban site and enclosed on three sides the hotel is viewed from one direction only. The design utilises the historic Japanese technique of receding, parallel planes to create visual depth.

House : Sumiyoshi : Japan

National Library (West): Kansai Science City : Japan

With the existing national library in Tokyo nearing full capacity the Japanese government launched a competition for a second facility, to be located in Western Japan. With a total floor area of 60,000 sq.m of which 30,000 sq.m is storage, the library will act as a major gatherer, holder and distributor of published information both nationally and internationally.

Revitalisation of Shopping District : Japan

Every Japanese town, virtually every neighbourhood, has its shopping street (商店街) and some of these, in smaller towns or older neighbourhoods, have become tired and underused. This proposal for a shopowners' association includes, amongst other things, the creation of a series of structures spanning major intersections along the street. These provide landmarks, information, advertising, entertainment and meeting points. 

Housing : Preston : UK

Family housing with a ‘loose fit’ that accommodates families of differing sizes and lifestyles and which responds to the history and townscape of the surrounding area. A continuous brick wall, which references the materials of the local area, forms the edge to the street and the accommodation variously shelters behind or punches through this wall as appropriate to the degree of privacy required. 

Site Plan_First Floor_Final.jpg
bottom of page