Good Life House is a suburban family home located in Fairfield for a family of five. The family, like all families, is made up of a group of individuals that live together. Mark and Kate were clear in articulating from the beginning that a home needs to accommodate the family as a group and as a collection of individuals, that they needed to be able to live together and also ‘live together apart’. The home needed to provide beyond the traditional kitchen, living and dining living spaces and allow a range of social and alone activities to occur. It also needed to be a space of learning and exploring and playing.

Project Name: The Good Life House
Studio Name: MRTN Architects
Project Size: 210 m2
Site Size: 550 m2
Project Budget: $900000
Completion Date: 2020
Building Levels: 2
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photography: Dave Kulesza

©Dave Kulesza

Mark and Kate had owned the property for a number of years and lived in the old house on the site, in part waiting for the time to build but also exploring other lifestyle options for their family including living on a farm and also purchasing an Alistair Knox house in Eltham. They kept coming back to the benefits of living close to the city and being part of the community in Fairfield.

©Dave Kulesza

The site is located on a fairly typical street for the area, Californian Bungalow and Arts and Crafts houses with hip and gable roof forms dominate the streetscape, these roofs largely create the character of the neighbourhood and were an important reference for how this new house design would fit in with its established neighbours. The street elevation faces east and from the footpath the home has a generous front setback and presents as a single storey home with dormer window. There is no front door, entry is either via the generous covered outdoor space, a subversion of the Rescode requirement for a covered car space, or else through the large sliding gate and garden entry to the north.

©Dave Kulesza

The material palette and spatial layout of the design drew on the Mark and Kate’s nostalgic memories of family farms visits and childhood home while also referencing the country homes and Alistair Knox’s houses that they considered prior to committing to building. In developing the plan, we looked at rambling country home plans, plans that are a collection of smaller spaces rather than expansive open plan homes that would not suit a need to be together and together apart. In place of a ‘Main Living’ and ‘TV’ or ‘Family Living’ type spaces we looked at ‘Quiet Living’ and Active Living’ rooms. Spaces to study or read were located in dedicated rooms but also in corridors, at windows and under stairs.

©Dave Kulesza

Internally materials were selected for their thermal performance, low maintenance durability and for the character created when brick, concrete and timber are combined in the one space, that along with the varying ceiling heights and window types create rooms with individual character and personality.

All heating and cooking powered by fossil free, highly energy efficient appliances and heat pump technologies. Reverse brick veneer construction, in-slab hydronic, ceiling fans and high operable windows contributing comfortable thermal environment.


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