The Cowshed
Floor area:
30m2 + 10m2
The clients purchased this semi-rural property in Banks Peninsula as an easy escape from the city. Drawn to its ‘off-grid’ nature, it lies in a grassy clearing bordered by native bush and rough farmland. There was an existing one-bedroom dwelling on it, but additional accommodation was required for visiting friends and family. Keen to embrace the site’s agrarian heritage, they turned their attention to an old, dilapidated cowshed.

With a leaking roof and battered walls, the milking barn had been abandoned long ago. Resolved to revive it, the new design uses the cowshed’s existing perimeter walls as a boundary for its architectural intervention. Embracing an appropriately simple language, a crisp new sleeping cabin slots within the old shell, clad in folded interlinked steel panels with a warm timber lining. Housing two double bedrooms and a bunk room, the new form is fronted by steel-framed glazing that looks out over the concrete yard and farmland beyond.

An existing wet room was reconditioned to introduce a bathroom, laundry and utility area. Instituting sharp macrocarpa joinery and ply against the original concrete walls accentuates the interplay between new and old. At the same time, high polycarbonate panels bring a diffused light through the space and emit a lantern-like effect come night. The final move was replacing an old mono-pitch roof and its cluttering of timber support poles with a larger one that now sails above the bedroom block and wetroom, housing the necessary solar panels and neatly packaging the cowshed into a roughly luxurious offering.
Photography by Sam Hartnett

“The Wainui cabin project represents an intriguing example of the harmonious coexistence between rural contextual sensitivity, functional sustainability, and architectural innovation. This project is an exemplary illustration of balance between a pragmatic yet elegant design philosophy, echoing the spirit of its surrounding rural context.”