"Small projects are good grounding for research" - John Wardle on Shearer's Quarters


World Architecture Festival 2012: Australian architect John Wardle tells Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs how small projects can be "a good grounding for research and testing of ideas" in this movie we filmed about his award-winning Shearer's Quarters at the World Architecture Festival earlier this month.

Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects

The building, which picked up the award in the villas category, provides a guesthouse alongside Wardle's own farmhouse on an island off the coast of Tasmania. The architect explains how the volume of the building employs "a series of geometric shifts" that transform it from "a skillion at one end" to "a gable at the other". The structure is also based on a strict geometric grid that dictates "all the windows, the doors, the joinery and the room dimensions".

Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects

The new building is clad in corrugated iron, which Wardle describes as "the traditional material for agricultural sheds" in the area. "But as it reveals itself it opens up to a completely timber-lined interior," he says. This interior accommodates visiting family and friends, as well as travelling sheep shearers and Wardle discusses how "the social culture of shearing is a wonderful bit of theatre."

Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects

Wardle also explains how his Melbourne-based practice usually works on larger projects and describes how the retention of water is an important aspect in the environmental management of any new building in Australia. He states the importance of bringing building back to cities to prevent urban sprawl and says that: "Now is the time for considering the way that cities shape themselves and develop."

Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects

We’ve filmed a series of interviews with award winners at the World Architecture Festival, which we’re publishing over the next few days – see our interview about the World Building of the Year with architect Chris Wilkinson and our interview with the shopping centre winner Mark Dytham.

See all our stories about WAF 2012 »

  • Anna

    I think this is a great little building, but I also think architects use the word “research” a little bit too much. Working out how to cure cancer is research, testing out ideas is not, and that’s just fine!

    There is nothing wrong with testing out ideas, but I wish we’d stop feeling so insecure about what we do that we need to call it research.

    • Hayden

      Yeah, and I wish the general populace valued alternative forms of research outside the linear-thinking scientific community. Perhaps the answer for cancer might arrive quicker through the application of some right-brain thinking?