Play With Shadows – Ember by MRTN Architects
Inspired by Japanese spatial principles and the interplay of light within a space, MRTN Architects creates two separate pavilions that each serve different purposes but come together to form the dwelling Ember. MRTN Architects draws on previous experience and knowledge of Eastern design principles to propose a home that sits as both an unimposing and unique destination.
Wanting to keep the main residence as a sole living and sleeping space, the owners of Ember sought to better utilise the entirety of the site by adding extra spaces that served other interests of theirs. Separated yet connected, the two proposed villas have been instilled with their own sense of character and charm, hinting at them being related to each other but not identical. The purpose of one is to serve as a meditative and creative space, while the other as a place of work. Known for their clever utilisation of space and an efficiency in planning, MRTN Architects looked to the principles that underpin a Japanese home and applied these to the new additions on site.
Despite the size of the site, the aim was not necessarily to fill the available land with additional forms but instead to enhance the experience of living within it. The established trees to the rear marked the ideal location for the pavilions, as they provide shade and dappled light throughout the day. The positioning of the two forms was also considered, with an emphasis on bringing as much natural light as possible into the spaces and providing warmth in the cooler months without needing to rely on external energy sources. The focus on tactile moments and the dance between light and shadow inspired a contrasting design principle.
Although bricked remains of an earlier settlement structure exists on site, it was not necessary to keep or restore these elements. Instead, the timber forms tie the functions of the residence together amid the landscape. While one form is a workshop and the other is a space that inspires creativity, the layers of contrast – and the resulting balance – between them have been considered at all levels. The interior of each space feels warm and inviting, which is intentional. The exterior, however, has been treated in the traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique of applying heat to encourage the natural protective sap within the timber to release, resulting in a black, charred protective coat that encases the forms.