Wool production has long been a mainstay of Australia’s highly productive farming sector. The seasonal trade of sheep shearing is subsequently deeply rooted within Australian culture as famously demanding work for tough farming men, shearing sheep in the heat and dust of a sun soaked tin shed.
This woolshed project at Bulls Run property, north west of Wagga Wagga, 200km inland from the coast, in regional New South Wales, re-thinks the design of traditional woolsheds in order to create an optimal work environment for shearers, while also meeting the highest standards for wool preparation and sheep handling.
The extreme heat experienced during the shearing season drove the placement, orientation, form and materiality of this building. The efficient movement of the sheep in a low stress environment and the technical requirements of the process of shearing drove the planning and layout.
The building has embraced a range of design solutions to contend with the summer heat. Alongside optimal orientation to capture prevailing northeasterly breezes that cross ventilate the interior, overhangs of a large portal frame roof provide shade to the walls and provide undercover sheep storage and access. A reticulated irrigation system sprays cooling water onto the roof. Large expanded mesh screens have been hung to the southwest, providing protection from the prevailing wind. Cascading water across these suspended surfaces utilises the cross-ventilating breeze and evaporative cooling, lowering working temperatures.
Strip skylights provide natural lighting. The entire structure is bolted together; all linings, cladding and floors are screwed and fixed. Thus the entire shed is demountable. The usage of a structural roofing system was an initiative providing additional planning flexibility.
This project sets out to provide a quality work environment for one of Australia’s oldest trades. The resulting building has elevated the task of shearing at Bulls Run, while reinterpreting the traditional built form of an Australian icon. This is a sophisticated passive building in tune with land, man and beast.
Text and Images taken from ‘Under the Edge : the Architecture of Peter Stutchbury’ published by the Architecture Foundation Australia, 2008.
Photos : Michael Nicholson. Text : Peter Stutchbury and Ewan McEoin.