Clifton Hill Terraces front facade

Clifton Hill Terraces is a dual townhouse development in inner-city Melbourne for environmentally conscious clients looking for a place to retire alongside friends and family.


The clients owned both of the dilapidated Victorian townhouses that previously occupied the site, as well as the house next door that they had lived in for many years.

They were looking for a dwelling they could retire in that was light-filled, comfortable, almost completely off-grid and capable of hosting large groups of people. A similar dwelling was to be produced on the same site for family or friends to move in.

The clients were hoping to save the existing Victorian dwellings, however due to significant movement on the site and the poor structural condition of the buildings, this was not possible. However, the architects were to recycle as much of these buildings as possible for the new build.

Sustainable design response

Clifton Hill Terraces facade corner

The architects ended up producing two three-storey buildings that well-exceeded the clients’ expectations. For example, the dwellings are almost entirely off grid, which is rare for projects of this scale and location.

There are a number of key design features that have contributed to this project’s sustainability.  

Clifton Hill Terraces windows

Thermally stable internal temperatures that required little need for mechanical intervention

  • Reverse brick veneer throughout for increased thermal mass
  • Suspended concrete slabs to ground floor and lower ground floor
  • Significant insulation to all internal and external floors, walls and ceilings
  • South to north natural ventilation throughout all living spaces for night time purging
  • Careful consideration of wind patterns to maximise airflow throughout building
  • Generous eaves to north, east and west windows providing appropriate shading throughout the warmer months, whilst allowing sun at appropriate angles during winter
  • Cross flow ventilation throughout roof cavities with extractors
  • Thermal ‘honeycomb’ blinds throughout to all windows
  • Timber window frames to north facing windows, thermally broken window frames to south facing upper floors
  • Low-E double glazing

Off-grid power supply

  • The dwellings are powered purely by electricity (no gas). Solar panels with 13.68KW battery for full supply of both dwellings (60 percent goes back to the grid)
  • Low energy LED lighting throughout
  • Energy efficient appliances and Sanden Heat Pumps for hot water supply

Use of sustainable materials

Clifton Hill Terraces interior

  • Recycled bricks from previously occupied dwellings of the site (used in the reverse brick veneer)
  • Low VOC paints throughout
  • Recycled bricks from previously occupied dwellings of the site (used in the reverse brick veneer)
  • Recycled timber flooring, and external timber cladding
  • Use of Weathertex cladding, a reconstituted timber cladding sourced from PEFC certified state forests or private hardwoods from controlled sources. The forest logs were chipped, pulped and pressed with 3 percent natural wax to make Australian natural timber products with no chemical additives
  • 80-90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfill to recycling depots.