Masters of Equestrian Architecture™

“Light, air, space to breathe. It’s all in the design.”

 Blackburn Architects, founded by John Blackburn in 1983, is focused on a very special market: Equestrian Architecture. Using principles of natural ventilation, we create buildings that “breathe” with air and with light, dissipating heat and moisture.

An architect with an engineer’s fascination for science and its influence on design, John Blackburn refers to vertical ventilation as the firm’s most important consideration. He explains that, “we design a project to be a natural machine, not just a static structure, by using the Bernoulli principle and the chimney effect. We place our barns perpendicular to prevailing summer breezes in order to take best advantage of a site’s natural features. Then, by venting through the roof, we create “chimneys” encouraging heat to rise. Reduced pressure on the leeward side of a roof, similar to the low pressure created by the shape of an airplane wing, suctions air out of our barns through openings in the roof or vented skylights.”

This “chimney effect” assists in the movement of air in and out of our barns. Differences in indoor-to-outdoor air densities result in temperature and moisture differences. The greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the buoyancy force and thus the chimney effect. All of Blackburn’s  designs harness solar and wind power to provide a strong interior current and upward movement of air in the barn without electrical power.

Learn from the past, focus on the future

Our first equestrian project, Heronwood Farm (1983),  was something new in the world of architecture – it was the first horse barn designed by architects, combining local architectural traditions, historic engineering principles and a modern aesthetic.

This successful project was the result of careful design, but it benefited enormously from correct site placement. By chance, on this starter project, the young architects were fortunate to work with one of the leading landscape architects in the United States at the time, Morgan Wheelock. It was Wheelock’s site plan; placing the structures correctly on the undulating property – that led to much of the building’s breathability. The lesson learned for John Blackburn has become one of the essential signatures of nearly every project since.

Today, Blackburn Architects leads the world in the design of equestrian facilities that are beautiful and innovative.

We are proud that our firm is credited with raising the bar on barn design through the use of aerodynamic principles. Our goal for decades has been to ensure the health and safety of horses through design and to do our part to protect the planet one manure composting system at a time.