Carterwilliamson’s award-winning Cowshed House in Glebe, Sydney is a spectacular example of adaptive reuse at its best. The modest project is exactly as it sounds - a former cowshed transformed into a residential abode - and has recently become the recipient of two impressive awards from the Australian Institute of Architects (NSW). It also received a commendation in the Colourbond Award for the Innovative Use of Steel in Architecture.
Wherever possible the team at Carterwilliamson retained the original structure however in many places this simply wasn’t feasible given the building’s structural instability. Fortunately, the tight budget set down by the clients worked in unison with the architects’ desire to incorporate a palette of simple, robust materials into the new build.
These hardy materials include concrete slabs for flooring, recycled brickwork on the interior walls, exposed timberwork, oiled timber doors and windows and corrugated cladding. This steel exterior arches up under a large Jacaranda tree in the gardens of the house which sheds its leaves each year, clogging the guttering and flooding the property. The new roof plane prevents these leaves from entering the guttering, saving the house from annual flooding.
Of the interiors of the Cowshed House the architects explain: “The plan of the house was kept largely as it was with the kitchen to the street corner, hidden behind the strong brick envelope and spilling over into the dining and living rooms. The kids’ bedrooms, replete with requisite hammocks, were tucked into the return of the L-shaped plan with a vivid red bathroom at the pivot, a nod to our client’s proud Venezuelan heritage.”
Located on a very dense plot of residential land, the Cowshed House benefits from natural lighting and ventilation through a series of clever design solutions from Carterwilliamson. A strip of high clerestory windows spiral upwards across the building’s façade allowing beams of sunlight to enter the interior volumes. On the ground floor, residents have the ability to open one side of the home to the elements, merging the boundaries between inside and outside space, as was the case in the building’s previous life.