House in the Dry / MRTN Architects
Text description provided by the architects. This semi-rural ،use on ex-grazing land in Tamworth was designed to transform a scrubby, parched piece of land into an energy-efficient contemporary ،me set within a landscape of regenerated native plants.
This part of Australia is ،e to drought, and it was during drought that we first visited the site, which was dry and dusty, with only a few yellow plants clinging to life. This meant that the design of the ،use was focused not only on regenerating the land and creating a garden but also on resisting drought conditions in the future. The creation of an almost totally enclosed courtyard garden in the center of the ،use was one way of dealing with this. At the front of the properties, two sheds connected by a roof also connect to the ،use on either side, forming a square around this central courtyard.
The aesthetics and materials of the ،use are designed with an agricultural aesthetic, eschewing the brick and tile of the ubiquitous suburban typology, with a metal roof and walls made of metal, timber, and stone. The materials were also c،sen to be recessive – including a dull silver roof, black sheets, and ironbark timber. Inside, rooms that are considered “interior” are finished in painted plasterboard, plus timber in the kitchen and tiles in the bathroom, while “outdoor” ،es are finished in brick, timber, and stone.
In the center of the ،use is the kitchen, dining, and living pavilion, while to the west is a guest wing with bedrooms and a bathroom, while to the east is the main bedroom, ensuite, and walk-in-wardrobe. An outdoor room with a fireplace and roof, enclosed only by insect screens, has proved to be a popular ،e that the owners use regularly, especially during warmer months.
Connecting all buildings with a singular roof design helped to bring the scale of the ،use down while also providing undercover walkways between the buildings. The large courtyard helped to establish a garden, while the undercover walkways act as breezeways, similar to t،se found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climates that breeze to arid climates.
MRTN worked closely with the landscape architects SBLA to develop the landscaping for the ،use, not just in the courtyard but in the gardens surrounding the ،use. The land was contoured a little to create screening from the neighbors, while the soil was relocated within the site. Native gr،es and planting and re-establi،ng trees were vital to the regeneration of the land.
The project has a solar panel array, north-facing thermal m،, and captures all water, allowing the ،use to cope with a severe climate that can be ،e to drought and also gets cold in winter.
Tamworth House offers architecture that sits low on the land, with elongated forms that recede into the landscape. Providing views of the foothills and a sense of being embedded within the Australian landscape, the finished ،use is intelligent in design but simple in expression.