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:


Chatham Road

This 200 square metre single dwelling home was designed in close collaboration with the builder, who was also the client. The intention was to design a home for the builder and his family that would also serve as a showcase of quality eco-effective design and construction.

The design is based around a series of timber-framed living, sleeping and wet area modules that can be flexibly deployed to suit different lot sizes, constraints and orientations. The construction also allows for a future upper storey extension to be added, through the inclusion of additional structural members in the roof and walls.

Situated on a rear battleaxe lot in the City of Swan Woodbridge heritage precinct, the design demonstrates how a contemporary aesthetic can still be complimentary to sensitive to the historical character and context of the neighbourhood.

This project also demonstrates how working in close collaboration with the builder can result in improved eco-effective, cost and design outcomes.

The project focuses on some simple sustainability and eco-effective design considerations:

  • Main living areas oriented towards north
  • North facing windows and walls shaded by with concrete awnings/portals that exclude harsh summer sun
  • Exposed thermal mass in main living areas to help regulate internal temperatures throughout the year
  • Airtight construction to minimise infiltration gains and losses
  • High performance glazing and window frames throughout
  • Extensive use of recycled and salvaged timber for external cladding and internal ceiling linings
  • Highly insulated building fabric
  • Light coloured roof to reduce solar absoprtance
  • Grouped wet areas to minimise plumbing runs for hot water
  • Reclaimed fill use as part of site and earthworks
  • Considered waste management practices to minimise building and construction waste while maximising recycling and re-use of materials
  • 7.0 star NatHERS rating

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 (www.livos.com.au)
  • Sisal carpets by Floors Natural (www.floorsnatural.com.au)
  • Low VOC paints throughout
  • E0 MDF in Nobilia kitchen cabinets supplied and installed by Kitchen Choice (www.kitchenchoice.com.au)
  • 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