Clifton Hill renovation staying put instead of selling adds up house sale

She also wanted to plan for the future, living on the same property but not in its entirety,” says architect Justin Mallia, whose brief to come up with a scheme also coincided with a neighbour deciding to add a large extension that impacted on this property.

The contemporary wing also responds to the period home.Credit:Peter Bennetts

“My client’s favourite portion of her back garden was largely in shadow as a result,” he adds.

Although there was also a gradual fall across the 420-square-metre site, Mallia Architecture was able to build up the rear of the property to create elevated gardens.

A new laser-cut steel fence also snakes around the back gardens to diffuse the northern light, as well as create a softer and more private edge.

The two new dwellings, made from recycled brick and featuring generous glazing framed by deep timber reveals, are clearly new additions.

The rear elevation of the development.

The rear elevation of the development.Credit:Peter Bennetts

However, this contemporary wing also responds to the period home, extending the quaint picket fence to form a screen for the communal parking in the basement below.

“The owner was also keen to retain as many of the established trees as possible,” says Mallia, pointing out the large beech and birch trees.

As a consequence, the elevated walkway, which will eventually be covered with vines, is a highly ‘curated’ journey.

The trees have been retained, and importantly, a number of outdoor ‘pockets’ of gardens and terraces can be enjoyed independently.

Mallia spends a considerable amount of time in Florence and has experienced the complexity of many of the palazzos.

“Many are quite complicated spaces, with winding steps that bring you to various parts of the property.

You might approach at street level, then wind your way up a few stairs and engage with the landscape in a different way.”

The layout of the three dwellings at Clifton Hill is also a surprise (although that of the original home can be found elsewhere).

The new wing, comprising the two units, ‘piggy-back’ each other.


Although each one has its own front door accessed from the arbour, and a separate garden and terrace, the two can become one if required.

A timber bookshelf can be left permanently locked or opened if the two units are required.

“The owner regularly has family and guests staying over, as well as a number of international students,” says Mallia.

So the larger 100-square metre unit, with articulated views over the original terracotta tiled roof can be increased in area by 50 square metres (the third abode), if required.


The larger of the two units, now the owner’s main residence, now contains everything she needs.

There’s a generous open plan kitchen and living space, together with two bedrooms and a bathroom.

She now also has two outdoor terraces and also a roof garden, all of which enjoy privacy from neighbours and benefit from full northern light.

International students who stay at the house have developed a fondness not just for the period home, but also the new accommodation.

“I recall the words of one student from Bolivia who before the work started, said, ‘Treat this place carefully. Our memories of Australia are strongly connected to this place’,” says Mallia, who has not only kept the memory of the Edwardian house alive, but also artfully demonstrated what can be achieved when architecture is delivered by the right hands.

“This isn’t simply a renovation for the present.

It allows our client to choose how she wants to live now, but also in the future, perhaps even scaling down to the smaller unit,” he adds.

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