When clients tasked Melbourne-based firm MRTN Architects with designing a new home for their whopping 300 acres of natural landscape, the architects could have created a massive structure. Instead, the design team, inspired by the local vernacular, chose to implement a modern take on a simple shed. The 500-square-foot Nulla Vale House and adjacent shed, both of which are 100 percent off-grid, were designed to foster a strong harmony with nature.
Located in Victoria, Australia, the home is set on an idyllic and rather remote area of untouched landscape. When the architects were contacted by the clients, the main request was that they design a structure that could be incorporated into another “more permanent home” that may be built on the same site in the future. Other than that, the clients also requested something that would stand out among the landscape from a distance.
While exploring the area, the architects saw a lot of old sheds tucked into the rolling hills and decided to use these traditional forms as inspiration for the new home. “Nostalgia for this connection between land and building was the guiding principle for the Nulla Vale House and Shed,” the team explained.
The home and the adjacent shed are 100 percent off the grid and installed with water, sewer and electrical systems that not only support the existing buildings, but are capable of supporting any future buildings as well. The shed, which is covered with solar panels, is used for storage and houses the main PV battery.
In addition to its energy efficiency, various recycled or repurposed materials such as salvaged brick were used in the home’s construction. Radial sawn timber was used to frame the home, which was then topped with a roof made from galvanized sheeting. The roof’s deep eaves shield the interior from the hot summer sun and optimize solar gains in the winter as part of a passive, energy-efficient strategy.
The rustic aesthetic of the exterior continues throughout the interior living space. The salvaged brick walls were left unfinished, and wooden beams run the length of the vaulted ceiling. Even the insulation in the ceiling was left intentionally exposed in order to reflect the light from the concealed LED fixtures, which were installed in the beams. The main living room and small kitchen sit at the heart of the home. Farther back, there is a simple bedroom and bathroom. Throughout the space, there are various windows that flood the home with natural light.
Photography by Peter Bennetts via MRTN Architects