Clinker Classic: Sustainable renovation

Issue 32 Words: Fiona Negrin Photography: Erica Lauthier
Richmond, Melbourne
  • ©The Rexroth Mannasmann Collective
  • External canvas blinds to all windows and a steel-framed pergola with immature deciduous vines to the north-west will help moderate summer sun.
  • "The amount of functionality crammed into a small floor plan is quite admirable," says Brenton Weisert, director at Rexroth Mannasmann Collective.

An original Housing Commission semi gets an ambitious sustainable renovation makeover, earning plaudits in the process.

Venture off the main shopping strip in Richmond, Melbourne, and you might think you’ve entered a time warp. Even locals are surprised to discover the 1940s Burnley public housing estate just a stone’s throw from the Yarra River. The modest semi-detached houses are blessed with charming period details like red clinker brick walls, timber-framed windows and terracotta roof tiles. Inside, the floor plans are functional and sensible, but for a modern family, space is tight.

“The layout was good, but it was cramped,” says Lisa, who lives in a newly renovated duplex with her husband and three kids. “The kitchen was so small we could hardly fit a table in. We wanted a zone for the kids and an area for the adults: one more bedroom, a study, a second bathroom, and if possible, two living areas.” They also wanted to make their old house more environmentally friendly.

Brenton Weisert, director at Roxreth Mannasmann Collective, was already enamoured with post-war duplex houses, having lived in one himself. “The amount of functionality crammed into a small floor plan is quite admirable,” he says. His challenge was to maintain the heritage character of Lisa’s house, while increasing its space and improving its passive solar performance.

The new double-storey extension confidently ticks all those boxes. Downstairs, a toilet and a laundry now sit where the cramped kitchen used to be, and a new kitchen, dining and living area extends along the south-east boundary, with plentiful glazing looking out to the north-west. Upstairs contains the master bedroom, second bathroom and study/guest room.

The extension is built with 180mm-thick walls to fit R3.5 insulation, while its cladding references the colour and texture palette of the roofs in the precinct.

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Cover of Issue 32
You can read more about Clinker Classic: Sustainable renovation in Issue 32 of Sanctuary magazine.

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The Rexroth Mannasmann Collective

Stuart Dunne, Melbourne Homes of Distinction

Renovation & addition

Burnley, VIC


House 211 sqm;
land 557 sqm

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