Updating of a 1920's brick house into a modern family home, this alteration and addition project in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn creates simple, flexible living spaces that allow the clients to live comfortably in Melbourne's winter sun.

On a site with a south facing living area and back garden, the clients' brief was resolved into the creation of a separate Studio building form, maximising northern glazing and the ability for winter sun to enter living areas. Carefully considering acoustic separation and degrees of autonomous use, the new Studio building is connected to the existing house by a decking walkway.

With rear lane access, the studio form cantilevers over a carparking space and allows the spaces to be used for a variety of functions over time.

The studio building provides:

  • Ground Level - laundry + bathroom + flexible living room/ studio/ office
  • First Floor Level - flexible bedroom/ study


  • Designed with a high thermal performance building fabric.
  • Solar passive design strategy
  • Separate building form at rear of site maximising north orientation
  • Simple and effective cross ventilation of single depth spaces
  • Louvre windows designed to provide both full opening cross ventilation and minimum fresh air rates to a super sealed building fabric from air leakage when they are closed.
  • Designed to operate in a number of modes as the clients family and living situation changes
  • Habitech modular building fabric - walls R4.3 / roof R 7.8 effectively air sealed
  • Double-glazed, Australian hardwood doors and windows- air-sealed to a considered and appropriate level for passive ventilated spaces
  • Reduced energy use and CO2 emissions
  • Hydronic heating being rarely used
  • No cooling fitted
  • LED lighting systems
  • Modular construction meant less material use and waste in manufacture and less waste on-site

Photography by Nic Granleese