A renovation of an 1829-constructed barn house, originally intended as a home for horses, has been named the nation’s best small architecture project for 2015 by the Australian Institute of Architects.

#thebarnTAS by workbylizandalex involved the repurposing of a nine by five metre barn into a small residence, achieved by creating a loft bedroom in part of the building’s 45 degree pitched roof and gutting the ground floor for a new kitchen and living space.

The project was placed ahead of LOVESTORY shop by MORQ in WA and Jackson Clements Burrows Architects’ award winning Moonlight Cabin in Victoria in the Small Project Category at the 2015 National Architecture Awards announced in Brisbane on 5 November.

View the full list of winning projects from the 2015 National Architecture Awards here.

Read the full jury citation for #thebarnTAS by workbylizandalex and see the other awarded projects in the Small Project Architecture category below:

Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture – #thebarnTAS by workbylizandalex (Tas)


Jury Citation: The architects have successfully realised the potential of this very small, neglected barn beyond any reasonable expectations.

The concept was quite simple: retain as much of the existing building fabric as possible. Where services and amenity were required, they have provided new insertions. Working within the original envelope of the barn, they created two distinctive spaces: a long, low one for dining and a tall, smaller space that showcases the original full height of the building while also revealing the underside of the original roof shingles that have been painstakingly cleaned by the architects.

All new work has been made to read differently from the existing fabric and in this way the important qualities of the building’s past have been retained. The Burra Charter mantra of ‘do as much as necessary, as little as possible’ has led to the retention of much of the rich textures of the stonework, timberwork and plasterwork. As a result the ingenuity of the new insertions is emphasised.

Every opportunity to maximise spatial usefulness has been exploited. For example, the new glazing finishes flush with the exterior sandstone, heightening the awareness of the ‘new,’ while internally these inserted window boxes provide much needed ancillary storage space. Inside, the architects have succeeded in preserving the sense of the barn’s original height by making the adjacent spaces lower as well as dividing space according to the structure and spacing of the original horse stalls. Working within the original envelope, they have used volume, outlook and a clear material strategy to define spaces and encourage variety and play.

This project overwhelmingly demonstrates that less can be much more.


  • Commendation for Small Project Architecture – LOVESTORY shop by MORQ (WA)
  • Commendation for Small Project Architecture - Moonlight Cabin by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (Vic)