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Project Overview

Year : 2014
Type : Residential – Alterations and Additions
Size : Approx 180 sqm

An inner-urban house extension, connecting the period dwelling at the front with the garden at the back, a contemporary intervention and a resurrection of the heritage dwelling at the same time. The new living spaces as a mediator in-between : The result is a funky yet subtle little extension.


Project Brief

Starting with a period house that was stuck in the 1970s and had lost its original flair, our clients asked us to convert this into a sustainable, light-filled family home. Key considerations were the connection to the outdoors, opportunities to entertain, passive solar design and other ESD features, while creating new family and play areas, laundry and studio.

Design Response

The back of the house – the ‘studio’ – is designed as its own ‘stand-alone wing’ which belongs to the garden more than to the house. It can be shut off thermally, visually and acoustically from the remainder of the house, and with plumbing and everything in place, it could later be converted into its own independent living unit if required. The oversized cavity sliders allow the spaces to adapt to flexible uses, and the design allows for further flexibility and a potential future upstairs extension at the same time.



A folding roofscape pops up and mediates between the old and the new. It hovers above the contemporary flat-roofed extension at the rear, while merging into the hips of the 1930s original roof at the front, thereby creating a series of north-facing highlight windows that bring a beautiful play of light and shadow deep into the family lounge.


The work is based on Environmental Sustainable Design Principles. Lots of north-facing windows allow northern sunlight and heat gain in winter. Deep wall recesses and long eaves create natural passive solar shading, to exclude the hot summer sun. A mix of low level and overhead clerestory windows benefit air circulation in particular over summer : Allowing cool air in at low level on the shaded south side and flushing the hot air out overnight at high level. A long and skinny playroom consisting of a glass front to the north can be closed off at both ends to collect solar heat – and then the full heigh sliding doors at one of the two ends can be opened up and concealed fully in the walls to direct that warm air into a particular part of the house.

The challenge was to make the building as a whole, including the old, as sustainable as possible. We removed all wall cladding in the old house to insulate walls, floors and ceilings, replaced all existing (and introduced some new) windows with timber framed double-glazed energy efficient windows, massively improving cross-ventilation.

Client's Comments

“We really enjoy the work that Marc and his team at MDS have designed for us – it’s such a beautiful home, they’ve done a terrific job. The way the spaces flow into each other and the sun comes deep into the house, that’s just amazing.  And the best thing are our energy bills : They are so low now, it was definitely worth the investment !
We also engaged MDS to help us oversee the construction process and we are very glad we did : They helped resolve some issues we had with the builder, and they added real value at this stage. We can highly recommend Melbourne Design Studios from start to finish!”


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