Local House / Zen Architects

Local House / Zen Architects
Local House

Project: Local House
Architecture: Zen Architects
Builder: CBD Contracting Group
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Area: 214 m²
Year: 2022
Photo credits:​ Derek Swalwell
Text by Zen Architects

Located within Mount Eagle Estate in Eaglemont, Local House is a modern, sustainable home that reinterprets the character of the historically significant suburb and harmonizes with its landscaped surroundings. Marion Mahoney and Walter Burley Griffin planned and designed the picturesque subdivision in 1915, with winding roads and community parklands that follow the curving topography, and dwellings that are secondary to the natural landscape.

Proponents of modern architecture, the Griffins designed houses free from stylistic precedent. Consequently, the guidelines for Mount Eagle Estate recommend architects take the same approach today while complying with the heritage, landscape, and vegetation protection overlays.

Local House / Zen Architects

Local House / Zen Architects

Local House is home to a couple who love art and traveling and have a great appreciation for design. They have four adult children and recently became grandparents and wanted a house where their family could comfortably visit and stay. Their brief to Zen Architects also came with comprehensive requirements for sustainability and spatial planning, which we achieved through orientation, layout, and palette.

Replacing an existing building, the house now sits higher on the hill of the large sloping block and is oriented toward the expansive north-facing garden to the rear. The footprint has been reduced by almost 100 square meters, yet the house vastly improves the comfort, liveability, and energy efficiency for the clients.

Local House / Zen Architects

The single-story home is accessible and mobility-friendly, designed for aging in place. The planning separates private, public, and guest spaces, allowing the house to expand and contract with visiting family members. Each area is differentiated by materiality, volume, light, and view, and is interwoven with outdoor and landscaped areas. The private spaces to the east (bedroom, ensuite, library, and sitting room) are intimate and textural. The spacious public area through the middle (kitchen, dining, and lounge) is light, relaxed, and connected. Guest bedrooms and a yoga room in a self-contained wing to the west are more modest.

Local House / Zen Architects

The robust and tactile material palette harmonizes the building with its garden surroundings, helping to weave the landscape inside and out and connecting the house to the site. The natural, recycled, and sustainable materials are almost entirely sourced from within Victoria, and they will age gracefully, minimizing maintenance and contributing to healthy interiors. Recycled brick and course natural render on the exterior are in keeping with the houses in the area, sitting comfortably with the local heritage yet offering a contemporary timeless aesthetic.

dining room


Castlemaine slate pavers continue from outside into the public spaces. Similarly, Victorian Ash timber beams of the pergolas continue inside as exposed beams above the entry, library, kitchen, and sitting room. The vertical timber-framed windows and rendered interior wall also help create an intimate, enclosed feel in the sitting room, creating a contrast to the spacious living area. Vertical timber in other parts of the house continues that theme and adds another level of privacy.

living area

living room

Windows are carefully placed for passive solar design and to optimize connection, view, light, and ventilation. Protruding and hooded north-facing windows maximize sun penetration in winter, while excluding summer sun, and recessed south-facing windows provide privacy from the street. The landscape was integral to the architectural design, and the significant landscape overlay required a mixed native approach. Layered plants offer a variety of colors, foliage types, and flowering times, and will grow in, around, and over the building over time. Taking its cues from the heritage and landscape of Mount Eagle Estate, Local House is a versatile, modern, and sustainable home that is rich in texture and character to harmonize with its leafy, historical setting.

Local House / Zen Architects

bedroom, Zen Architects

bathroom, Zen Architects


Local House, Zen Architects

Local House, Zen Architects

Zen Architects

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