Ember House / MRTN Architects

Architects: MRTN Architects
Area: 27 m²
Year: 2023
Photography: Anthony Basheer
Lead Architect: Antony Martin
Builders: Rod Greaves
Landscape Designer: Sam Cox
City: Doncaster
Country: Australia

MRTN Architects designed a 27 m² extension to a suburban home completed in Doncaster, Australia in 2023. Rather than a typical expansion, this project crafted two specialized spaces: one work, and one leisure. Drawing inspiration from the traditional Japanese tea house and incorporating elements like tatami matting and shoji screens, the design emphasizes a connection with nature and the surrounding garden. The strategic use of cedar and shou sugi ban burnt ash enhances the dialogue between the structures and the landscape.

Ember house / mrtn architects

The clients expanded their residence by adding two purpose-specific areas: one dedicated to work and the other designed for leisure. The property, characterized by a bush-like backyard rather than a manicured lawn, diverges from conventional home extensions by offering spaces tailored to the distinct needs of the individuals.

It was critical to the design that the extensions echoed the aesthetic of the Robin Boyd-designed CHI home without directly imitating its elements. Positioned within the garden, these studios adopt a concept akin to traditional Japanese architecture, particularly tea houses known for their unique functional and spatial integration into garden settings. This design approach reflects the longstanding influence of Japanese architecture on Australian residential design, as exemplified by architects like Robin Boyd.

The design fosters a subtle interaction among the main house, the twin studios, and the garden. This relationship is highlighted through strategic views, aligning the studios with significant landscape elements like a mature eucalypt tree, and through the architectural techniques employed in the window frames and eaves of the main house.

The studios feature a minimal external material palette, consisting primarily of cedar and shou sugi ban style burnt ash cladding. In the leisure studio, traditional Japanese design elements like tatami mats and shoji screens were playfully explored.

Ember house / mrtn architects

The spatial dialogue between the two studios lends them distinctive characters and an elusive scale. Positioned at the garden’s rear, they create a sense of secluded interaction. An interesting aspect of the design is the communal space centered around a fire pit at the back of the studios, which crafts an ambiance reminiscent of camping with friends. This outdoor gathering area, though not immediately evident in photographs, plays a crucial role in the project’s overall experience.

Ember house / mrtn architects
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Doncaster, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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