This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

An Off-Grid Rural House, Designed For The Future

Architecture

All architecture projects are specific to their site, but this is especially true for the off-grid house and shed designed by MRTN Architects.

Located on a cattle farm owned by the one family for generations, every element of this project has been informed by its surrounding landscape.

This project is particularly unique, as it was specifically designed with future expansion in mind, calling for similar techniques used in the construction of agricultural sheds, to enable the home to be adapted and added to over time.

25th November, 2019

The Nulla Vale house and shed by MRTN Architects. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Triangular window sections in the gable ends of the house reference traditional shed construction methods, allowing the structure to be enlarged over time. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The location of the house takes full advantage of the property’s views. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The use of salvaged bricks and corrugated roofing from a former shed creates a strong connection to the land. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Even the bathroom gets a stunning view! Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The material palette references picturesque sheds in the surrounding countryside. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

A perfectly framed view in the home’s bedroom. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The shed functions as a carport and a place to store wood, PV batteries and general farm equipment. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The home is oriented to the north east to take advantage of the morning sun. A generous roof overhang provides shade. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Amelia Barnes
Monday 25th November 2019

‘We laid out a driveway to access the house site and designed it to wind along the natural contours of the land and allow the house to become gradually apparent.’ – Antony Martin

Driving up to this cattle farm in Nulla Vale, Victoria, (located about 80 kilometres north of Melbourne), two identical gable-roofed forms arise from the land, appearing from a distance much like abandoned rural sheds.

Upon closer inspection, one of these buildings is in fact a house made from salvaged bricks and upcycled corrugated roofing, forming a grounded connection to the home’s expansive site.

The revealing journey of arriving at the property is no accident, having actually inspired the entire design by MRTN Architects. ‘The project was informed by the experience of discovering the site, by winding through the land to come across the two clear shapes of the house and shed, that command views all round,’ explains Antony Martin from MRTN Architects. ‘Early design conversations were had about how the shed and house were conceived as wagons that have been travelling along a desired line through the site, and have stopped along the way as if to say, ‘This is where we will stay.’

The home is currently used as a holiday house, while the shed serves as carport, wood store and storage facility for the PV panels and battery required to run the off-grid residence. The exact position of both structures was chosen for their outlook, which takes full advantage of the property’s distant views, and ancient trees and granite outcrops in the foreground. ‘We laid out a driveway to access the house site and designed it to wind along the natural contours of the land and allow the house to become gradually apparent,’ says Antony.

A further driving element of this design is the client’s intention to one day build a larger house on the site, incorporating these two structures. ‘Our brief was to provide the means for habitation of the site, but to do so in a way that suggested an initial occupation of place rather than a fully-fledged domestic setting,’ Antony says. ‘This direction was very informative part of the design process as each plan had to be tested with a range of potential expansion options.’

MRTN approached this challenge by referencing the way rural sheds are built to easily accommodate more storage as required. ‘Skillion roofs are added or gables are extended so that small sheds became larger, rather than demolished and rebuilt. This type of growth is referenced in the triangular window sections in the gable ends of the house,’ Antony says.

The home’s aesthetic derives from the surrounding architectural vernacular and the client’s desire to feel immersed in the land. ‘The key to the brief was that they wanted to create a connection for themselves to the site; to spend time there and gain an understanding and deeper appreciation for a part of the world that they see themselves having a long connection to,’ says Antony. Among the most significant inspirations are the many historic, near-ruin, out buildings and sheds found in this part of Victoria. ‘We didn’t want to replicate a city home environment in the country. Inside the house has a raw, unfinished quality to it that makes it part-home, and part-shed. The feeling of being in shed heightens the experience of being not outside but not quite inside either.’

While small in footprint, the impact of this design is profound, and features sustainable planning that looks brightly to the future. Antony says, ‘There is nothing quite like being outside in the early evening, when the sky to the west becomes an incredible deep blue colour, while inside the fire keeps the home warm. Light is reflected of the ceiling and the roof trusses create these wonderful shadows.’

This Week

Interiors

The 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards Winners!

From Troye Sivan's divine Flack Studio residence to a converted warehouse abode, the industry’s best designers and projects have been reve...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras
  6 hours ago

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras
  22 hours ago

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

The Autumn House by Studio Bright unites a Victorian terrace with its 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen, in one contemporary des...
2:04

Inside Look

Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Exhibition designer Allie Mactier takes us through one of the National Gallery of Victoria's biggest exhibitions ever.

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Tiny Barn Addition To A Coastal Family Home

See inside this creative extension of a NSW Central Coast family home by Fabric Architecture.

Interiors

A Light And Lofty Rural Masterpiece

‘The Barn’ in South Gippsland takes contemporary, regional accommodation to a new level!

Architecture

A Modern Country Home Inspired By The Aussie Shed

The Wensleydale by Byrne Architects is the epitome of luxe, contemporary country living - and you can stay here!
Miriam McGarry

This Week

Interiors

The 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards Winners!

From Troye Sivan's divine Flack Studio residence to a converted warehouse abode, the industry’s best designers and projects have been reve...
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

The Autumn House by Studio Bright unites a Victorian terrace with its 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen, in one contemporary des...

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.
2:04

Inside Look

Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Exhibition designer Allie Mactier takes us through one of the National Gallery of Victoria's biggest exhibitions ever.

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras
  6 hours ago

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras
  22 hours ago

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Tiny Barn Addition To A Coastal Family Home

A creative extension to a NSW Central Coast family home by Fabric Architecture.

Interiors

A Light And Lofty Rural Masterpiece

‘The Barn’ in South Gippsland takes contemporary, regional accommodation to a new level!

Architecture

A Modern Country Home Inspired By The Aussie Shed

The Wensleydale by Byrne Architects is the epitome of luxe, contemporary country living - and you can stay here!
Miriam McGarry

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net