house in the dry: MRTN architects' garden oasis in arid grasslands of australia

house in the dry: MRTN architects' garden oasis in arid grasslands of australia

transforming arid land into a sustainable home


Located in Moore Creek, New South Wales, the House in the Dry, takes shape with design by Australian studio MRTN Architects, exemplifying innovative design in the face of challenging environmental conditions. This semi-rural dwelling emerged from a vision to revive a parched, ex-grazing land in Tamworth, converting it into a contemporary and energy-efficient home while sensitively occupying the native landscape.

The House in the Dry was conceived during a period of severe drought, where the land lay desolate, covered only in sparse, yellowing vegetation. The architects aimed both to regenerate the land and to create a home that could withstand similar conditions in the future. The design solution results in an almost entirely enclosed central courtyard garden, which forms the heart of the dwelling. Flanked by two sheds connected by a roof, this square layout effectively shelters the interior from the harsh environment beyond.

mrtn architects australia
images © Anthony Basheer | @anthonybasheer



mrtn ARchitects embraces an agricultural aesthetic


With its organization and materiality, MRTN Architects’ House in the Dry departs from Australia’s typical suburban typology. The architects instead embrace an agricultural aesthetic, employing a metal roof and walls built from metal, timber, and stone. These materials were selected for their unobtrusive nature, including a subdued silver roof, black sheets, and ironbark timber. Inside, interior spaces are finished with painted plasterboard, timber in the kitchen, and tiles in the bathroom, while the walls of the central courtyard are finished with brick, timber, and stone.

The core of the house is the kitchen, dining, and living pavilion, creating a communal space at the heart of the home. To the west, a guest wing houses bedrooms and a bathroom, while the main bedroom, ensuite, and walk-in-wardrobe are situated to the east. An outdoor room, equipped with a fireplace and a roof enclosed only by insect screens, offers a welcoming retreat, particularly during the warmer months.

mrtn architects australia
landscape architects SBLA reintroduce native grasses and trees to regenerate the land



landscape regeneration in australia’s dry climate


The Australia home is enclosed by a cohesive roof which is designed by MRTN Architects designs to unify each of its structures. This both contributes to a continuous visual aesthetic and provides covered walkways connecting the separate buildings of the house. These walkways serve as breezeways, drawing inspiration from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean architecture, where they facilitate airflow in arid climates.

The team collaborated closely with landscape architects SBLA to develop the landscaping around the house, not just within the central courtyard but also in the surrounding gardens. The land was subtly contoured to provide privacy from neighboring properties, and soil was strategically relocated on-site. The use of native grasses and the reestablishment of trees played a crucial role in regenerating the land. The house is equipped with a solar panel array, strategically oriented towards the north for thermal mass, and a comprehensive water capture system — features which enable the house to perform sustainably in the drought-prone climate.

mrtn architects australia
the kitchen, dining, and living pavilion serves as a central hub for gathering and relaxing house in the dry: MRTN architects' garden oasis in arid grasslands of australia
MRTN Architects’ House in the Dry transforms a parched ex-grazing land into a sustainable oasis house in the dry: MRTN architects' garden oasis in arid grasslands of australia
amidst a drought-prone environment, an enclosed central courtyard is sheltered from Australia’s extreme weather


a metal roof and walls made of timber, stone, and metal provide a unique contrast to suburban norms



covered walkways unite all elements of the house, creating a continuous flow and offering respite from the elements

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