Found on a sheep farm in the rural landscape of Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia, this modern farmhouse addresses sustainability and tradition in its design. Known as the Coopworth House, the project was completed by FMD Architects, an Australian firm based out of Melbourne. Its most unique feature, an insulated ceiling made from sealed wool, uses materials sourced from sheep living locally at the onsite farm.
The home is “a contemporary interpretation of a country farmhouse,” said the architects. “The site’s resident Coopworth sheep, the wide-ranging views to the water and mountain ranges beyond, as well as the weathering red lead shacks dotted over the island provide an ever-changing landscape with which the house converses.” They achieved this interpretation through a combination of traditional farm building materials and aesthetics like corrugated iron, wood, concrete and rock as well as modern features like modwood (made from recycled wood and plastic) and sustainable amenities like off-grid solar power.
The wool ceiling is bordered by plywood linings and concrete floors and is sealed with clear, polycarbonate corrugated sheeting. In addition to honoring the farm itself, the wool also adds an important thermal component to the home in an effort to reduce energy consumption. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide natural light reflected off the raw plywood walls, while a dark, folded steel fireplace and fixtures contrast against the natural wood. In the bathroom, the designers added subway-tiled red brick on the floors and walls to match the geometric, exterior chimney stack.
In its natural state, the house accommodates two occupants but can also be opened up to host additional guests thanks to Australian verandah sleepouts and caravan bunk beds. There are sunken beds lining the window bays, a mezzanine that acts as both a study space and a separate bedroom, and a trundle-style plywood bed integrated within the wall.
Roof gutters have been replaced with in-ground trenches, and interior compact spaces can be closed off to reduce heating and cooling demands. Water tanks and a large solar array on the farm provide both sustainable water and energy, while the slow combustion wood fireplace represents the home’s main heat source. During construction, the builders used lightweight supplies to mitigate transportation resources, despite the remote site. They also prioritized locally sourced materials such as plywood and recycled timber and used locally designed furniture and LED light fixtures. Local artist Robby Wirramanda provided a series of charred timber sculptures for the property.
Photography by Dianna Snape via FMD Architects