Australian modular design and build firm Habitech Systems has breathed new life and improved sustainable standards into an original Victorian cottage in Hawthorn, Australia. In addition to the renovation of the existing home, the designers replaced the existing rear addition with a modern extension that boasts a strengthened connection with the rear garden. The energy efficiency of the new home—named Lawes St Extension – Hawthorn—was vastly increased through improved insulation, energy-saving heating and cooling systems, and the integration of passive solar principles.

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before image of the Lawes St Extension - Hawthorn by Habitech Systems

rear extension with awning

The existing home had been clad in brown brick in the 1980s, creating a dated look that Habitech Systems rectified with a new street facade made from naturally oiled Cypress timber battening. They also gave the front veranda a modern refresh with a new porch entry, while adding black metal-clad box-bay windows to provide a visual pop of contrast. Inside, the floor plan of the original cottage was kept largely intact; it includes a long entrance hall, two secondary bedrooms, a study and bathroom.

Glazed doors open to the kitchen

The kitchen of Lawes St Extension - Hawthorn by Habitech Systems

After the previous extension was torn down, the designers grappled with height restrictions and the challenging terrain, which slopes down to the north and east at a point lower than the existing floor level. “The two primary challenges were leveraged together to produce the connected but varied arrangement of spaces designed,” wrote Habitech Systems. “The stepped floor level provided an opening up of the space to the northern sun and daylight, while the roof of the addition slopes up to the light.”

Habitech Systems SIPS facade

double glazed windows

Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

A lowered laundry room and lobby roof occupies the transitional zone between the existing structure and the extension. Just beyond are the master suite and an open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen awash in natural light. The extension receives direct north solar access and was built with highly insulated Habitech SIPS walls and roof. Double-glazed and thermally broken aluminum-framed windows flood the interior with natural light without letting in unwanted solar gain. Heat reclamation ventilation and floor- and wall-based hydronic heating and cooling also reduce energy demands. Materials from the existing house were reused wherever possible.

+ Habitech Systems

Images via Nic Granleese