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A Contemporary Farmhouse In Suburban Melbourne!

Architecture

At first glance, this home in Melbourne’s Fairfield appears no different than its weatherboard Federation neighbours, but what you’re looking at is actually an entirely new house.

Recognising the number of nearby over-scaled developments not in keeping with the dominant character and scale of the street, the clients of this project engaged MRTN Architects to design a new home suitable to its context. 

By cleverly concealing a second storey, and adopting a sympathetic materials palette, this home perfectly nestles into its suburban streetscape, while internally adopting the feel of a rambling farmhouse.

28th May, 2020

Good life House by MRTN Architects is a project in Melbourne’s Fairfield. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Several inspirations underpin the home, including farmhouse style homes in Melbourne’s outer suburbs designed by architect Alistair Knox. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

The interior palette features an eclectic and varied use of brick, timber and stone throughout.  Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

‘Internally, the material palette is characterised by the warmth and textured finishes found in the exposed brick, timber and hand glazed tiles,’ says architect Antony Martin. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

‘Timber is always very important for us to include in home. It has a hand crafted to appeal to it and has texture and warmth along with a practical durability,’ says Antony. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

There’s an earthy, hardwearing quality to the home suitable for a young family of five. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

The client requested spaces for both quiet and communal in the home – not a typically open, modern layout. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

‘We wanted the house to function as a farmhouse in the city, a rambling plan that encouraged exploration and was hardy in its materiality allowing for a robust family use,’ says Antony. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Quiet spaces in the home allow the family of five to ‘live together apart.’ Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Spaces to study or read are located in dedicated rooms but also in corridors, at windows and under stairs.  Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

An integrated study nook. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Coloured carpet is reminiscent of mid-century homes. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Bathroom materials are equally as warm as the remainder of the home. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

A view to the en suite. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

The abundance of natural light and the textured materiality of the spaces need to be experienced in person to be fully appreciated. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Natural light is invited in through the roof. iPhoto – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

A cobalt blue bathroom is one of this home’s many surprises. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

The roof mirrors hip and gable roof forms common to the area, while concealing a second storey. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

The farmhouse influence is immediately evident in the dramatic entranceway, which allows the family to park their bikes and dump their bags before entering the ‘proper’ house. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

The new home nestles into its context, at first glance appearing no different than other weatherboard Federation homes in the area. Photo – Dave Kulesza. Styling – Bea+Co

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 28th May 2020

‘We viewed the house as if we had relocated a rambling farmhouse into the city.’ – Antony Martin

Designing a brand new house in an streetscape dominated by heritage homes is a major architectural challenge. In the case of this project in Fairfield (six kilometres north-east of the Melbourne CBD), however, there was little other option. The rundown weatherboard house on site needed replacing, and the clients didn’t wish to contribute to the growing number of unsympathetic new builds in the area. MRTN Architects were brought on to balance these requirements, creating a contemporary home that impressively and seamlessly nestles into its local context.

Key to this home’s success is its roof form, that mirrors the hip and gable forms common to the area, while concealing an innovative second storey. MRTN Architects director Antony Martin explains, ‘These roofs largely create the character of the neighbourhood, and were an important reference for how this new house design would fit in with its established neighbours.’

This project was also inspired by the client’s previous interest in purchasing a house in the outer suburbs by architect Alistair Knox. While they eventually chose to settle closer to the city, the family appreciated the often rambling, farmhouse layouts of Knox’s homes, which contain spaces for both quiet and communal use. ‘Therefore, in developing the plan, we looked at rambling country home plans – plans that are a collection of smaller spaces, rather than expansive open-plan homes that would not suit a need to be together and together apart,’ says Antony. ‘We viewed the house as if we had relocated a rambling farmhouse into the city.’

The farmhouse influence is immediately evident in the dramatic entranceway, which allows the family to park their bikes and dump their bags before entering the ‘proper’ house. The interior palette was similarly inspired by Alistair Knox homes, adopting an eclectic and varied use of brick, timber and stone throughout. 

While the look of this house is very much underpinned by older architectural styles, there’s a contemporary sensibility in the way it opens to the sun and garden. The project also supports low energy consumption via the integration of hydronic heating and heat pump systems. We can see why it’s nicknamed the ‘Good Life House!’

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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.

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