Renovating Resources

Kirsten Aberle and David Mason always knew they would renovate the 1920s red brick bungalow they bought in 2004. When daughter Elizabeth was born three years later, it was time to extend.

Transforming a 1920’s Brick Bungalow

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

A modest extension means this suburban Adelaide house works more naturally to keep its occupants comfortable, and has also inspired them to live more sustainably.

by Sasha Shtargot  Photography by Craig Parham

Kirsten Aberle and David Mason always knew they would renovate the 1920s red brick bungalow they bought in 2004. Starting a family would make it necessary to extend the four room house in the Adelaide suburb of Hawthorn – when daughter Elizabeth was born three years later, it was time to act.

“We originally just wanted a house that had lots of light in winter and was cool in summer,” Kirsten explains. The couple were interested in sustainability and called Archicentre for an architect with green credentials. They were rapt with the initial renovation proposal by Emilis Prelgauskas and hired him as the designer and Energy Aspect Living as the builders.

The renovation started in late 2008 and took about six months, the family living in the house for most of the time the extension was being built. “We really enjoyed living in the house during the renovation,” Kirsten says. “We were able to ask questions on a daily basis if something was being done that we didn’t understand, and this was invaluable in decreasing ‘mishaps’ or miscommunications.”

The original parts of the home – two bedrooms and the lounge – were left largely as they were. Walking through to the back there is a clear differentiation between old and new – old floorboards give way to tiles as you enter a linking glass hallway with courtyards on either side. When low windows in the hallway are opened in summer, cool air from natural evaporation from vegetation and water sprays in the courtyards enters the house and acts as a form of passive cooling. The passage continues down the middle of the extension and leads past a bathroom and laundry on the south side and a study on the north side into an expansive, open plan living, dining and kitchen area. Here there are large east and north-facing windows to let in winter sun, with external blinds and eaves providing shade in summer. Ceiling fans help with air circulation.

The red bricks from the original back wall (now knocked down) have been reused in landscaping the garden. The couple have installed rainwater tanks providing 16,000 litres of capacity, with the collected water plumbed through the house and into the garden. They have been using rainwater alone for up to nine months of the year. “We can smell the difference when we switch back to mains water, because of the chlorine,” Kirsten says.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in Sanctuary: Modern Green Homes Magazine, Issue 18.

Sanctuary is Australia’s only magazine dedicated to sustainable house design. Sanctuary’s mission is to bring you the most beautiful, best designed sustainable houses in Australia, and to show you what can be done to make your house healthier, more comfortable, and more energy and water-efficient.

To read the entire article and see a list of sustainable features and products used in the renovation, pick up a copy of Sanctuary: Modern Green Homes Magazine in newsagents or subscribe online.

Project details:


  • Photo credits to Craig Parham
Centre for Liveability Real Estate

Centre for Liveability Real Estate

In addition to their expertise in residential real estate, The Centre for Liveability Real Estate also works collaboratively with the sustainable design, construction, manufacturing and assessment and industries in the development of information on this site.

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