Farmhouses are typically located away from arable land, but ‘Coopworth’ isn’t your standard farmhouse.
Turning the traditional farmhouse vernacular on its head (while still drawing on this style aesthetically) the new home is deliberately not fenced off from sheep, instead standing proud in its paddock.
When engaging FMD Architects, the clients requested a house able to accommodate between two and 20 people. Universal access was also important to support visitors with disabilities, and the couple’s potential future needs.
The resulting footprint of the house is consciously constrained to maximise arable land, but with generous interiors facilitated by various gabled, hipped and skillion rooflines. Simple plywood linings and concrete floors draw focus to this ceiling, which features wool sourced from the property, adding to its thermal performance.
Window niches on the home’s northern elevation capture views of farmland, mountains and water beyond, whilst frameless windows embrace wild winds and rains, allowing residents to be simultaneously immersed in, and protected from, the beauty and brutality of the weather.
Chimney stacks commonly seen on Bruny Island’s historic shacks have been reimagined here as a sunken bath, further connecting the interiors to the surrounding land, including the resident sheep that come up to the glass!
‘The way it is recessed in the ground allows the bather to feel like they are alone with the sheep in the paddock,’ says FMD Architects director Fiona Dunin.
While primarily designed to accommodate two principal occupants, this house can just easily host several guests through creative interpretations of Australian verandah sleep outs and caravan bunk beds. This is shown in the ground floor window bays which feature sunken beds – a ‘camping-like arrangement nurturing familial connection,’ as FMD describes it. ‘It’s like a giant slumber party for the grandkids!’ says Fiona.
A large solar array and nearby water tanks provide a self-sustaining water and power supply, while an efficient, slow-combustion wood fire is the main source of heating.
Much of this project’s success can be attributed to the relationship between FMD and the client, having worked together on multiple prior projects. The practice’s rigorous understanding of their desires and farm operations is reflected in the home’s hardwearing finishes and custom elements, including elevated planters to protect foliage from sheep, and a ‘boot room’ for residents to dust off in before entering.
Fiona says, ‘This project is really every architect’s dream project; amazing site, trusting client and exceptional builder, all built during lockdown!’