Just past Melbourne airport the landscape changes from tract housing to pastoral land and small rural communities. Dotted along the drive are old agricultural outbuildings and early settler dwellings. Simple structures, that are part of the landscape. Nostalgia for this connection between land and building was the guiding principle for MRTN Architects Nulla Vale house and Shed.
Much of Nulla Vale is ‘granite country’ a landscape that is both beautiful and harsh. A landscape created through geological conditions over millions of years and by land clearing and grazing, you can see the land dotted with granite boulders both small and large.
The site a 300-acre parcel of pastoral land that is dotted with granite outcrops and the occasional gumtree. MRTN Architects clients are intending to eventually build their full-time home on this land. But to begin with they asked for a place to be able to stay, a basic dwelling with the minimum of amenity. Somewhere they could spend weekends as they make a connection to the land and begin their caretaking period of the site.
The Shed and House are identical in their overall dimensions and from a distance, their silhouette is the familiar gable ended form commonly associated with farming sheds. Up close, however, the two structures are clearly defined as shed and house through the material, void, and volume. The shed was custom designed by MRTN Architects directly with a shed fabrication company using their systems to create a shed that is part storage part entryways. Clad entirely in heritage grade corrugated galvanized iron with a roof oriented and pitched to maximize solar exposure through the seasons.
The house is constructed from salvaged bricks and corrugated iron in addition to rough sawn timber and new galvanized roofing on pre-engineered timber trusses that are left exposed both inside and out. Materials were selected to meet the clients’ brief that house fit within the cognitive idea of an ‘old shed’. Internally the finishes are the same as outside, no plasterboard and no paint. LED lighting strips concealed on top of the rafters reflect light off the foil-backed insulation. The house provides the means to eat, sleep and wash in a space that is part of the experience of being on the site and not removed from it.
Photos Peter Bennetts