Bass Coast Farmhouse brings drama to the Australian countryside

Bass Coast Farmhouse by John Wardle Architects is a rural dwelling in Australia’s Victoria, balancing contemporary design and traditional typologies

bass coast farmhouse hero exterior
(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

Bass Coast Farmhouse by John Wardle Architects is a fitting addition to the Melbourne-based architecture studio’s long tradition of immaculate rural dwellings. Situated in a coastal spot in south-west Victoria, the land of which the Boon Wurrung people have been the Traditional Custodians, the project is a family home in the countryside. 'It is a farmhouse, pure and simple,' the architects write among their key design 'rules' – other guiding principles in the process included the desire for a concrete floor, different types of windows, and a defining undercroft. 

timber clad interior at bass coast farmhouse

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

Bass Coast Farmhouse: the exterior

From a distance, the two-storey house appears simple, reduced to a minimalist, abstract outline of an archetypal farmhouse building. However, move closer and the drama of this elaborately designed home unfolds. The structure's corrugated iron roof, timber walls and a single chimney wrap a tactile and expressive interior, clad in timber, and revealed upon entering via the undercroft's visible gabled roof structure and approach bridge. 

undercroft at bass coast farmhouse

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

The house has been conceived as a powerful response to its landscape and terrain. It cantilevers over a rise and connects with the ground elsewhere, drawing on the undulating land around it. It also offers access to walking tracks linking it to the nearby ocean beach – Bass Strait.  

living room in rural modern australian home

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

Bass Coast Farmhouse: the interior

Bass Coast Farmhouse's lower level hosts laundry, cellar and storeroom spaces, and an outdoor kitchen and dining area. Upstairs is the main living space, opening up to striking, long vistas. Combining rooms for both sleeping and withdrawing, and socialising, it features large openings that frame the nature around it. 

views from the living room through large windows in bass coast farmhouse

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

Drama aside, at its heart, the structure remains a functional agricultural home. The architects write: 'The farmhouse remains faithful to the building language of rural structures with a façade of timber and galvanised steel roofing. External timber shutters close the house to the elements and provide privacy and protection when the home is uninhabited. 

‘Timber is used extensively to line walls, floors and ceilings. The limited palette of interior materials features blackened steel and glazed tiles. Glazing is minimal, with only three types of windows in the house – a design rule that ensures natural ventilation to all spaces.' 

inside bass coast farmhouse

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

Adding to its connection to nature – represented through location, materials and visual links – the home also features strong sustainability credentials, as it is created to be entirely off-grid, robust, but also gentle in its spatial relationships. 

children's bunk beds in bass coast farmhouse

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

bass coast farmhouse living space

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

bass coast farmhouse courtyard

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

detail inside bass coast farmhouse

(Image credit: Trevor Mein)

bass coast farmhouse nighttime exterior

(Image credit: Trevor Mein) (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).