In Trentham, Australia, a uniquely shaped and very long house that was recently finished by MRTN Architects has been appropriately dubbed the Trentham Long House. This stunning structure combines contemporary interior decor and slightly rustic building all in one seamless and interesting place.
The Trentham Long House sits comfortably nestled atop the Great Dividing Range on the edge of the sleep town of Trentham, about 100km outside the city of Melbourne. Once upon a time it was a gold mining town, but now it’s a calm, quiet country escape. The dwellers of Trentham value their home for its country air, which is crisp, cool, and incredibly fresh, and also for its quiet streets, which are most often free of traffic.
It makes sense, then, that this relaxing town is the perfect setting for a home that’s intended to feel a little bit like you’re stepping back in time, even though it still has all the sleek amenities of contemporary living. The house is a delicate balance of the simplicity of times of auld and the conveniences of modern home technology.
The house is more than just a semi-traditional throwback to simpler living. It’s actually part of a partially rural development that sits on the periphery of the small town and prioritizes low maintenance, energy efficient homes. The Long House in particular was build for an older couple who often have their children and grandchildren stays for visits. They requested a home that would harness the historical elements of the area and its local context but also provide a comfortable dwelling with easy living all year round. They also wanted to be able to host large family gatherings!
Though the house has several nearby neighbouring properties, its situated so as to feel serenely on its own. It bears expansive garden in both the front and the back, giving it quite idyllic views no matter where in the house you’re seated. The actual structure of the house is very unique indeed; rather than being one solid piece standing within shared walls, the Long House is actually a collection of contemporarily styled farm buildings that have been gathered under one very large gabled roof.
This sort of semi-attached building collective is actually typical of the traditional farming houses in the local area’s history. In fact, the goal to be authentic with the house was so well met that parts of it are actually upcycled buildings from real surrounding farms that were not longer in use.
The garage, for example, was once an old machinery shed. The main farmhouse, which is organized around a central and traditionally laid out farmhouse kitchen with its own wood burning stove, is new but several elements of it were built with reclaimed and locally sourced wood.
In terms of materiality, the house maintains a naturally subtle colour palette in the way it uses things that were sourced directly from the surrounding environment. The house is actually built with natural wear and tear over time in mind. The facade, which is made of gum wood cladding, will gain a natural patina as it weathers, which is specifically intended to add to the home’s historical character. This will blend it even more effectively into its natural surroundings than has already happened.
In the home’s interior functions, the buildings are divided according to function, so that the needs to low impact country life all make sense as you move throughout the space. There is also a blending of function in certain places. For example, there is a carport at one end of the long house that provides shade and coverage to the area directly next to it, which is a guest house. The overhand provides a buffer to the hot Australian sun.
Towards the far end of the house from the meandering driveway, you’ll encounter a row of mature eucalyptus trees. These are stunning to look at and provide shade, but they also have a functional purpose in the way they separate the relaxing home spaces from the parts of the land plot that actually feature more functionally working farm aspects.
In the main living spaces, the warm hearth is the centre of the house around which most things are arranged. It creates a lovely focal point that is also a clear and comfortable gathering place and delineates the seating and meeting area from the eating area. Because the interior decor scheme is so sleek and simple, actual architectural elements of these spaces are given more visual space, speaking to the home’s traditional senses.
Perhaps the most contemporary element of the home- the place where the contrast is most stark- is in the kitchen. Here, life seems more high tech with modern cooking facilities and glazed floor to ceiling windows with movable screens that can blend indoor and outdoor spaces. Moving towards the private sleeping spaces of the house, things feel more local and traditional again.
Photos by Anthony Basheer