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Project Overview

Year : 2016
Type : Heritage Refurbishment / Alterations & Additions / Family Home
Size : approx. 300sqm

Taking an almost derelict but originally beautiful Victorian residence back to its former glory and turning it into a sustainable inner-city residence, has been the ultimate goal of this project. While on a typically tight Richmond block, the result offers a generous family home. It respects the neighbourhood character and sits well within the heritage streetscape – whilst internally it provides all modern amenities and allows for luxury contemporary living.

“Looking beyond its old shell, we fell in love with the derelict dwelling at the very start, when our clients shared their vision with us,” says MDS director Marc Bernstein. The brief was for contemporary living with a heritage twist, a generous feel, family spaces incorporating outdoor living, good use of natural light, four bedrooms, and “wow-factor” – while of course keeping in mind the commercial viability and budget at all times.

Design Response

The scheme has been designed to respect the house’s original heritage character while introducing a contemporary edge and ample natural light. Each room is given its own treatment to create a sense of place and belonging.

The generous open plan living, dining and kitchen open up to the sun-captured north garden through a wall of bi-fold doors and a charming upholstered window seat. A walnut veneer wall, and recessed shadowlines to skirtings and architraves make the whole work sublime.

The staircase to bedrooms on the upper level, utilises a chimney stack effect to draw out rising heat through summer. When you walk upstairs, you arrive at an extended landing with a large bi-fold wall where you’re effectively standing on an oversized balcony. A landing is a spatial element that is generally considered ‘lost’ space. In this scheme, MDS utilise every space in the home in order to give it added meaning.


While the original front boasts beautiful heritage features within the feel of the ‘traditional’ rooms, it’s the back of the house with its new north-facing extension and garden area that totally transform this property into a new family residence for a contemporary and luxurious inner-city lifestyle.

The building’s fine details work as a whole, yet each space in the building has its own feel and its own character, bringing the smaller elements together and playing with the overall theme. Perhaps the family bathroom with its revamped (biofuel) fireplace, chandelier, and wall to ceiling Italian mosaic tiles best describe this approach. When sunlight hits the chandelier the room glimmers. Imagine lighting the fire on a cold winter’s morning, while the sunshine sparkle reflects off the chandelier during your daily morning routine – a completely new way to start the day, and to rejuvenate body and soul.


Passive Solar Design, an efficient thermal building envelope based on an EIF-System and high quality thermally broken windows with double-glazing allow for a contemporary yet sustainable lifestyle.

At the rear of the original home, a set of steps leads down to a “services core” (with laundry and powder room), and then on to the two-storey addition. Here, the new built volumes are arranged along the south boundary of the block, to access “free solar heating”, and to formulate north-facing garden space.

Rainwater tanks, solar hot water and energy efficient lighting devices add to its performance.


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