Vista Street Renovations

Vista Street Renovations

Kitchen, living and bathroom renovations completed to an existing timber-framed house in Vista Street, Kensington.

Vista Street Renovations
Vista Street Renovations
Vista Street Renovations

Bulwer Street Renovations


The clients purchased the house around 2012. It was in a state of disrepair, with some very substandard renovations originally completed in the 1970s.

Prior to my involvement, the clients restored many of the original features, while adding modern improvements such as double glazing, energy efficient lighting and insulation. As a regular client at their cafe, I was subsequently engaged as their architect to assist with designing an eco-effective addition comprising a new bedroom and ensuite, connected to a rear courtyard.

During construction, one of the biggest challenges was access, as everything had to be delivered and removed via the single width garage, only accessible from the narrow rear laneway. This included the demolition of the 1970s brick laundry from the back of the house.

Other eco-effective design features include:

  • Renovating and extending an existing dwelling significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the build compared to complete demolition and new build
  • North orientation and windows to the main bedroom
  • uPVC double-glazed windows for improved thermal and acoustic performance
  • Eaves overhangs and shading awnings
  • Energy efficient LED light fittings and downlights used throughout the renovation
  • Draught proofing and sealing to create a more airtight building envelope
  • Gutter free design to new roof over addition to minimise accumulation of leaf litter, which also directly irrigates a garden bed at the base of the wall

The Team:

Brisbane St Residence

Brisbane Street Residence

Recipient of the Sustainable Design Award in the 2013 City of Vincent Building Design & Conservation Awards.

This project involved a significant addition and renovation to an existing single storey semi-detached house in the inner city. The original house dates back to the early 20th century and has been largely retained, to which was added a two-storey extension designed to capture natural light and views of the CBD. For this project, we believed the most appropriate design response was to respect the integrity of the existing dwelling, and so designed the extension to contrast as well as complement. If we had tried to mimic the old structure, the end result would have become a pastiche.

Our eco-effective approach to this project has been relatively simple – while the build does include technological “bling” such as solar PV, home automation and a transparent insulated wall (to allow light but protect against the worst of the summer sun), its design harks back to the fundamental principles of solar passive design. A small courtyard between the new and existing structures provides solar access for passive heating in winter, walls are constructed from reverse brick veneer to insulate internal thermal mass from the outside, and windows and doors are made from sustainably harvested cedar with high performance glazing to reduce heat losses and gains via conduction.

Strategically located openings provide natural ventilation for cooling during the summer, while zero-VOC paints and finishes used throughout. A rainwater harvesting system captures water from the roof for consumption (the tank is concealed under the courtyard deck), salvaged karri timber has been used for the suspended floors, stair treads and kitchen benchtops, while future provision has also been made for an extensive green roof over the new extension.

Brisbane St Residence
Brisbane St Residence
Brisbane St Residence
Brisbane St Residence
Brisbane St Residence

Other eco-effective design features include:

  • LED Lighting (including replacement of old incandescent lights in the existing part of the house)
  • Large windows on northern side of extension (using an internal courtyard) for passive solar design
  • Extensive use of eColour paints internally and externally (a paint made from recycled engine oil from NSW with no VOC off gassing)
  • Concrete upper and lower floors, for heat retention – passive solar design
  • Home automation designed to open and close blinds in summer to reduce heat gain
  • Use of E0 MDF in cabinetry
  • Livos oils for timber floors, concrete floors and benchtops
  • Inside pond for natural evaporative cooling
  • Insulation in ceiling, walls and under timber flooring
  • Reverse brick veneer construction
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • 3.2kW solar PV
  • high performance glazing (low-e)
  • re-use of existing dwelling
  • Danpatherm translucent insulation to west and north stairwell wall
  • whole of house fan
  • ceiling fans
  • louvre windows
  • Use of recycled timber internally, including kitchen benchtops
  • Weathertex panelling to west and south walls

Matlock Street

Matlock Street

This renovation to an early 20th century cottage in the suburb of Mount Hawthorn added a new kitchen and living spaces, outdoor deck and pool, bathroom and parents’ retreat to the upper floor. The second storey was carefully designed to minimise its impact upon the streetscape, which is predominantly single storey.

The key sustainable design feature of this project is that the existing dwelling was retained. The clients loved the feel of their existing home, and wanted to build upon and complement this rather that starting from scratch. A preliminary eTool life cycle assessment revealed that retaining the existing dwelling saves around 39 tonnes of carbon over the life of the building, which was also extended by around 45 years.


Other eco-effective design features include:

  • North orientation to living spaces
  • Exposed thermal mass in exposed original brick walls to interior spaces
  • Window openings positioned to capture south-westerly summer afternoon breezes
  • Operable louvre windows in gable roof to enhance stack ventilation effect in summer
  • Eaves overhang to ensure shading to all external walls in summer and rain protection in winter
  • Timber screens to balcony angled to allow winter sun to enter and preserve privacy of neighbour
  • Recycled brick feature walls
  • Insulated cavity brick to ground floor
  • Insulated reverse brick veneer to upper floor
  • Bright Green LED D900 downlights used throughout
  • Livos KOIMOS High Solid Floor Oil #208 Black (
  • Sisal carpets by Floors Natural (
  • Low VOC paints throughout
  • E0 MDF in Nobilia kitchen cabinets supplied and installed by Kitchen Choice (
  • Covered outdoor drying area and clothesline (minimises need to use a clothes dryer)
  • Dark coloured floors to enhance solar absorbance during the day for winter passive heating
  • Salvaged teak timber used for outdoor decking (from colonial buildings being demolished in India)
  • Retention of existing Brazilian peppercorn and Paperbark trees to help provide shading from eastern morning summer sun
  • Resource Recovery by Instant Waste Management

Geenunginy Bo Residence

Situated on Noongar Wadjuk land, Geenunginy Bo (place of looking a long way) is a solar passive upper storey addition to a 1970s brick and tile residence. Located only 200 metres from the beach in the northern suburbs of Perth, the new addition has been design to maximise access to cooling, summer sea breezes and northern winter sun, while also capturing ocean and inland views.

As part of the renovation works, the external brick walls of the existing ground floor have been retrofitted with blow-in cavity insulation, while the windows have been replaced with thermally-broken aluminium framed and double-glazing. The original rear pergola (that used to be a dark and cold in winter) has been converted to a solar pergola, allowing winter sun to enter and warm the ground floor living area.

The timber-framed upper storey addition has high, raked ceilings and also incorporates recycled brick around the stair for extra thermal mass. Windows and glass sliding doors have been strategically positioned and carefully shaded to capture winter sun and ocean views, without compromising thermal performance.

The addition also has its own private entrance, providing the option for it to be used as self-contained accommodation – or COVID self-isolation when necessary!

Other eco-effective design features include:

  • Recycled WA Blackbutt timber flooring
  • Recycled feature brickwork for additional thermal mass
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures, taps  and shower heads
  • Natural daylight supplemented by energy efficient LED lighting
  • Strategically positioned louvre windows to enhance natural and cross ventilation
  • Thermal broken aluminium window frames with double-glazing
  • New low solar absorptance metal deck roof to existing ground floor
  • R5.0 insulation batts and reflective foil insulation to the roof
  • Timber-framed external walls with R2.5 insulation batts
  • Deciduous planting and trees to garden to provide shading in summer
  • Big Ass ceiling fans
  • 6.6kw solar PV system