Melville Residence

A contextual extension to a heritage home, with a focus on materiality and light.


Located in East Fremantle, in an area of highly conservative and detailed Council regulations, this large addition to a heritage cottage is a display of sensitive contextualism, without the need to emulate form.

The client brief called for a timeless, easy to maintain and contextual design for their residence, a multi-generational owned family cottage. Whilst the council favored additions which emulated the form of the existing cottage, we submitted that a more appropriate site response was a form that created abundant natural light, was highly energy efficient, was scale appropriate for the street, and utilized a materials palette which was undeniably ‘Fremantle.’

The result is a longer, narrow addition, extended to the rear boundary, re-orientating the residence, and the backyard, to the north. A skeleton of massive rammed earth ‘blade’ walls create the spine of the structure, adding massive amounts of thermal mass. Surrounding this spine is a series of highly efficient lightweight walls, creating a layered form, with elevated ceilings.

In addition to the rammed earth, a materials palette of grooved cement sheeting, exposed concrete and timber, are all positioned so as to ground the mass of the design and create a palette which references the old. The kitchen island counter and light, for example, were custom made using the structural timbers of the old shed on site, reusing hard woods a century old.

The property is surrounded by native gardens, all expertly specified by Dr Alison O’Donnell, which will evolve and grow, like the home, with the occupants.



Heritage Addition


East Fremantle



Size m2

186m2 (Addition) + 107m2 (Existing)

Cost /m2


Tender Savings


Energy Rating

6.6 Star


SIDI Construction

Structural Engineer

Cenit Group

Energy Consultants

CADDS Energy

Building Surveyor

Taycon Group

Plant Specification and Landscaping

Dr Alison O’Donnell