Two Barn-Like Volumes Make Up This Low-Maintenance Australian Home

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Twin Barns in Byron Bay is a durable residence featuring galvanized steel, gable roofs and Australian spotted gum wood cladding.

For their home in Byron Bay, Australia, architect and builder Tim Sharpe of Sharpe Design Construct and his wife Rani Blancpain combined the Australian wool shed, European mansard, and steep-pitched gabled roofs to create a home that would become better with age. "So we can focus on living in it and enjoying it, rather than maintaining it," explains Sharpe.

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Architect and builder Tim Sharpe and his wife Rani Blancpain wanted a home that would allow them to enjoy an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Surrounded by hoop pines, Twin Barns comprises two farmhouse-style buildings: an approximately 3,600-square-foot, four-bedroom home; and a 900-square-foot "granny flat."

Architect and builder Tim Sharpe and his wife Rani Blancpain wanted a home that would allow them to enjoy an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Surrounded by hoop pines, Twin Barns comprises two farmhouse-style buildings: an approximately 3,600-square-foot, four-bedroom home; and a 900-square-foot "granny flat."

Sharpe and Blancpain designed Twin Barns to be not only low-maintenance and durable, but also comfortable and thermally efficient. They used hardy materials, as in the galvanized-steel flat pan roof and Australian spotted gum VJ board, which would both age well and develop a gray patina over time.

Sliding external screens provide privacy and shade from the sun. 

Sliding external screens provide privacy and shade from the sun. 

The residence is set on a tiered site with large amounts of uncovered floating basalt rock, which was use extensively in the landscaping. The plot provided two level building sites on an otherwise sloping block, enabling access to the garden for all living areas. 

The galvanized metal exterior cladding is easy to maintain, and will age well over time.

The galvanized metal exterior cladding is easy to maintain, and will age well over time.

An outdoor bathtub promises lazy, summer soaks.

An outdoor bathtub promises lazy, summer soaks.

A spangled, galvanized mansard roof cladding was used for low maintenance and longevity. Over time, this galvanized cladding will develop a handsome gray patina that will stand in pleasing contrast to the spotted gum wood.

Twin Barns in Byron Bay, New South Wales takes its form from agriculture.

Twin Barns in Byron Bay, New South Wales takes its form from agriculture.

A hidden portal steel frame provides strong support. 

A hidden portal steel frame provides strong support. 

The car port is constructed with the same galvanized metal roof as the house.

The car port is constructed with the same galvanized metal roof as the house.

Australian spotted gum wood was used for sections of the exterior wall.

Australian spotted gum wood was used for sections of the exterior wall.

Underfloor hydronic heating and cooling were installed underneath the polished concrete floors to cost-effectively maintain comfortable indoor temperatures all year round. 

The dining table and chairs were designed by Tim Sharpe.

The dining table and chairs were designed by Tim Sharpe.

Polished concrete floors reflect the light in the bright, airy home.

Polished concrete floors reflect the light in the bright, airy home.

In the main house, the steep-pitched gable ceiling gives the interiors a voluminous, lofty feel. The two-degree pitched roof of the bedroom wing defines the private areas of the home. 

The delicate chandelier from Murano, Italy, was commissioned by homeowner Rani Blancpain.

The delicate chandelier from Murano, Italy, was commissioned by homeowner Rani Blancpain.

The smaller house follows the form of the larger house, and also has a spangled, galvanized mansard roof. This volume was designed with a mezzanine over the bedroom that defines its private spaces. 

Fans were added for improved air circulation. 

Fans were added for improved air circulation. 

The house has underfloor hydronic heating and cooling sustained by a 23 KW solar PV system. 

The house has underfloor hydronic heating and cooling sustained by a 23 KW solar PV system. 

The building was oriented to draw as much natural light from both the north and east into the living areas and bedrooms. "This results in minimal need for summer cooling and winter heating, and assures a pleasant, light-filled, comfortable space," says Sharpe. 

A staircase leads up to the mezzanine loft.

A staircase leads up to the mezzanine loft.

A simple, neutral color scheme and natural materials result in minimalist and timeless interiors. 

An open mezzanine loft and office space.

An open mezzanine loft and office space.

A snug attic room.

A snug attic room.

"We aimed to create a house that is grand and majestic in its demeanor, while still remaining inviting, warm, cozy, and family friendly," says Sharpe. 

Twin Barns main house floor plan

Twin Barns main house floor plan

Twin Barns granny flat floor plan

Twin Barns granny flat floor plan


Project Credits: 

Architect, builder, interior and lighting design: Sharpe Design Construct (@sharpedc)

 Structural engineering: Phili Wallace Consulting Engineers 

Civil engineering: N.A Mathie Steel Fabrication 

Landscape design: Rani Blancpain 

Cabinetry: Stuart Lochhead Custom Joinery Specialist 

Photography: Andy Macpherson

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