A “contemporary Australian shed” in the Snowy Mountains has been named among the winners of this year’s prestigious German Design Award.
Designed by Sydney-based practice Casey Brown Architecture, Crackenback Stables comprises two separate yet connected structures: a machinery shed and a stable. As much as the silvery, iron-wrapped forms respond to their undulating mountain context, their overarching structure has been conceived to offer push-back against the context’s harsh climactic conditions. The two buildings have been arranged at a perpendicular angle, and together form a barrier against winter winds.
Even while offering a protective veil between occupants and the climate, Crackenback Stables opens up to its landscape by virtue of carefully placed windows around the perimeter. On the southern edge of the building, small square pivot windows break the wall plane to provide light and ventilation; on the northern side, larger windows admit light and warmth. A large, trapezoidal void has been cut into the upstairs façade to offer sweeping and elevated mountain views from the upper-level verandah.
“The distinct form of the building with its eave-less design assuages issues of this extreme climate – such as snow and wind-loading – as well as providing bushfire protection,” explain the architects of the practical underpinning of their design. “Concealed recessed verandahs and deep window reveals help protect the building against summer sun.
“The building also features neatly concealed and protected gutters, which collect rainwater into large tanks for use throughout the building and across the property. Waste from the building is all processed naturally onsite. The exposed concrete and masonry walls internally provide thermal mass to mediate against diurnal variation, mitigating the hottest and coolest parts of the day.”
The German Design Award jury praised Crackenback Stables for its refreshing interpretation of an established and highly localised architectural typology; an interpretation that nonetheless succeeded in responding to its context.
“The reddish-brown metal with its variegated shades refers intriguingly to the natural colours of the Australian bush,” reads the jury statement.
Each year, the German Design Award is staged by the German Design Council in recognition of “outstanding achievements in the fields of product and communication design, and [of] personality in the design sector”. The prize is the fifth received by Casey Brown Architects for Crackenback Stables, coming straight on the heels of the Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award, which was awarded to the project earlier this year.