A Timber-Lined Haven – Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects
North Bruny Island, TAS, Australia
Located on a working sheep farm on North Bruny Island, the Shearer’s Quarters saw John Wardle take on the role of both architect and client. The warm timber-lined structure, clad in corrugated iron, reinterprets the traditional agricultural building typology while responding to the site’s superlative natural beauty.
The Shearer’s Quarters is located on ‘Waterview’, a working sheep farm of 440 hectares, on land that was originally granted to Captain James Kelly in 1840. Within the Wardle family since 2002, the property itself affords a multitude of generous natural offerings, including three private beaches and five kilometres of coastal frontage. Core to the works on site was the rejuvenation of the landscape, with over 150 hectares reserved for conservation and over 6,000 indigenous trees planted.
The Shearers Quarters saw the reinvigoration of the burnt remains of the original shearer’s quarters that were lost to fire in the 1980s, with a contemporary exploration of curated views and form expressed through the traditional timber materiality of such workers dwellings. The Quarters are intended to accommodate visiting shearers, family and friends and sits as an accompaniment to the existing historic cottage.
Built by Cordwell Lane, the structure occupies just under 140 square metres. The Quarters see a large open living/dining/kitchen area as the main internal space combined with a small bathroom and laundry, and two bedrooms and a bunk room. Simultaneously dramatic yet subtle, the roof form transforms from a slender skillion profile on the western edge to a much broader gable profile on the east. Internally, these shifts are carried through the dividing internal walls, the timber boards that line them and the curated window openings. The resulting profile also mimics the fall of the land to the south, and the line of the original residence.
Due to its unique and relatively remote location, the selection of materiality was born from a place of simplicity and restraint for both ease of management and access to the site via the Bruny Island ferry. Externally, corrugated galvanised iron clads the building, and the interior is lined with timber. This minimal palette further allows for a strengthening of expression of both, contrasting the tough resilience to the outside to the temperamental climatic conditions of the iron on the outside with the soft tactility and warmth of the timber inside.
The Quarters are intended to accommodate visiting shearers, family and friends and sits as an accompaniment to the existing historic cottage.
Wholly integrated sustainable design principles are evident in all gestures. The primary lining of timber is pinus macrocarpa, with flooring in recycled yellow stringybark while the bedrooms are clad in recycled apple box crates (unused since the 1960s, sourced from orchards nearby in the Huon Valley). The structure’s small footprint, together with its operable louvres and vents allow for cross-ventilation and passive cooling during summer, and the double glazing and imbedded insulation allow for thermal performance during winter.
The resulting profile also mimics the fall of the land to the south, and the line of the original residence.
As both client and architect, John Wardle has been able to embed principles of sustainability together with a sense of historic connection to the site and its past. The clever integration of solar heating, rainwater collection and reuse show a respectful response to the location and a future-focused approach to design. With no time constraints, and the opportunity to explore architectural ideation on site, John Wardle Architects’ Shearer’s Quarters combines a curated space with refined architectural detailing that warmly welcomes its incredible site inward.