St Kilda, Victoria, Australia – S2 design

Date:     2009-2013
Area:     450 sqm
Photography:    S2 Design and Melanie Faith Dove

St Kilda sits on the very edge of the Melbourne CBD. Parks, restaurants and all the accouterments of city life abound. Much of the old has gone to make way for hotels and office and apartment buildings. But pockets of delightful 19th century architecture still exist and are now heritage listed. Any renovations and/or additions must be done sympathetically. The challenge lies in the reality that these homes are typically small, dark and poorly ventilated.


In this renovation and extension, the original street facade and the front two rooms have been retained. Past this point, the home explodes into modern livability! Yet despite the enormous changes, the home is designed to sustainable standards right down to the rooftop vege patch.

From the architect:

You’ll notice many common architectural elements are intentionally missing:


  • white porcelain – toilets and hand basins are all stainless steel; most bench tops too.
  • paint – especially white paint, we’re sick of it! Areas that are normally painted are either left raw or coated with natural and non-toxic oils.
  • secondary finishes – aside from adding furniture, the finished home appears almost unchanged since it was a building site. Materials have generally been left in their ‘as built’ state; raw, tactile and honest. Look at the structure and fixings, understand how the building stands up and appreciate the craftsmanship.
  • plasterboard – all wall and ceiling cladding is timber paneling or plywood. Timber is tough. Plaster needs to be painted and is easy to damage, especially with small children running around. The front two rooms and passageway of the original Victorian house retain their lathe and hard plaster walls and ceilings.
  • shiny chrome – it’s production is terrible for the environment and it marks very easily. Chrome has been replaced with brushed stainless steel for it’s resilience to dirt and wear.
  • clinical sterility i.e. the ‘standard’ shiny white house – materials are chosen for properties such as being natural, beautiful, durable, textural, colorful, homely, etc.

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