While a new second-storey extension to a Melbourne home has been named ‘Playtime’ and caters for three children, the design process was far from child’s play.

Designed by Guild Architects, the sustainable addition to the Californian bungalow came with its challenges.

These challenges involved improving light quality and outside connection to the southern end of the building without extensive re-configuration to the existing house, and creating a comfortable second-storey addition without the aid of traditional mass materials such as brick and concrete. Additionally, the clients didn’t want a bulky form dominating the period home when viewed from the street.


To address this, Guild’s design saw the demolition of the study, which opened up the hallway and entry to views and light with minimal disturbance to existing areas. This allowed the budget to focus on the new addition.

The new second-storey addition, itself, is a retreat for children. Angled roofs and walls reference the existing roof form, with the highest point of the roof setback from the existing ridge line (reducing the apparent height of extension when viewed from the street). Inside, is a north-facing lounge, attic-style spaces, and secret hatches. 


Downstairs, is a 1.5-metre long inbuilt aquarium framed by a pin board for artwork and family photos. Making the most of storage space, timber draws are found underneath the stairs, creating a perfect spot for keeping items like school bags, helmets and shoes. Bi-fold doors to the new living area conceals recycled shelving and utilises the dead space created by the angled walls.

An above ground recycled shipping container pool sits at the property's rear, and required no excavation or concrete. 


Incorporated in the project's design are a number of sustainability features such as automated southern clerestorey windows for cross and stack ventilation, high specification Miglass composite windows, retrofitted insulation to all existing walls and floors, LED lighting, low VOC finishes, and sustainably-sourced hardwood plywood for floors and joinery.

The new plumbing has been connected to the existing water tanks and a grey water system. A new hydronic heating system has been introduced, while the solar hot water and solar panel systems have been retained.