Desirous of a “low-tech, country life,” a couple reached out to Brunswick-based architectural firm MRTN Architects for the design of the Trentham Long House, a contemporary home inspired by the traditional farming structures that once inhabited the Australian countryside. Located north of Melbourne, the dwelling consists of an elongated structure topped with a gable roof. To meet the client’s brief for a largely self-sufficient home, the architects optimized the thermal performance of the build, taking advantage of passive solar principles and installing a high-efficiency fireplace for supplementary heating in winter.

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timber modern farmhouse with gabled roof

Built for a couple that often hosts their extended family, the single-story home spans an area of 2,787 square feet and is oriented east to west. The main living spaces are located on the west side and include four bedrooms evenly split on either side of the central open-plan living area with a dining space and kitchen. Full-height glazing with custom sliding screens open the living space to an outdoor terrace.

room with slatted screens opening to outdoor deck

living room with brown leather sofas and large fireplace

“The building’s muted material palette subtly and effectively reflects the surrounding environment, echoing buildings of the past,” MRTN Architects explained. “The spotted gum exterior cladding is left to naturally patina, relying on its innate aptitude to develop character and camouflage over time. The owners are not extravagant or wasteful people, they live with a careful intent behind all they do and their family is very important to them. The house is largely self-sufficient, heating costs are low, cooling costs are non-existent and the extended family can be accommodated at all times.”

Related: A tiny, rustic, off-grid cabin sits on vast 300 acres in Australia

kitchen with light wood cabinets

bathroom with black tiles and large white tub under a window

The client’s son, a builder, constructed the project with finishes and materials selected on the basis of their durability, thermal performance and cost-effectiveness. To ensure energy efficiency, the architects kept glazed openings along the south facade at a minimum while roof overhangs and custom sliding screens help protect against unwanted solar gain. Stone tile set on a concrete slab provides thermal mass. Moreover, all rainwater runoff from the roof is captured and stored in large water tanks and reused for all the home’s water needs and for irrigation.

+ MRTN Architects

Photography by Anthony Basheer via MRTN Architects

long timber home