Keeping character intact in the midst of great change

  •   27 September 2021

While building from scratch certainly gives one the ability to create a bespoke home, adding, extending or refurbishing an existing house is where the challenge lies. Ensuring a house retains its architectural integrity, and the stories within the walls, is certainly easier said than done, and for an architect, it is important that this character remains intact. From a sustainable standpoint, it is imperative that any additions or alterations made to an existing home do not come at a cost to the earth, and do not cause an upsurge in energy and water use to the occupant.

The Single Dwelling (Alteration) category at the 2021 Sustainability Awards seeks to crown the architect of a Class 1a building that has extended and/or altered a building of this kind. Typically, the winner of the category will submit a design that demonstrates a balance between dual considerations of usability and ongoing sustainability outcomes. The design, despite altering an existing home, will be original both in its response to the client brief and in the way it tackles issues of sustainability as related to single dwelling homes. The design must ensure it is a sustainable dwelling, with architects encouraged to source materials and implement the design via a sustainable approach. All of these factors play a major part in the jury’s decision in crowning the winner.

Warehouse Greenhouse by Breathe Architecture is the reigning champion of the Single Dwelling (Alteration) category. Embracing the building’s past and ensuring its future, Breathe has built the home to Passivhaus standards. The home has a highly thermally efficient envelope, is cross-ventilated and harnesses the existing building’s thermal mass. It has high-performance, double glazed tilt-and-turn windows, which were installed inside the existing glazed openings – essentially adding a third layer of glazing with a large cavity (making this a triple glazed dwelling). Incredibly, there is no active heating or cooling in this residence, instead, it solely relies on the tight thermal envelope and the HRV system.

The remnants of the existing building have been preserved and expressed by the architectural practice, revealing its signs of age and imperfection. Prioritising the longevity of the existing warehouse, the project is a simple, contextual extension built using as many reused, repurposed materials as possible.

Stormtech is the proud sponsor of the Single Dwelling (Alteration) category in 2021. A provider of drainage products and solutions for many homes, old and existing, Stormtech understands what is required in this day and age to provide products that are sustainable and durable. The product of choice for many of Australia’s designers, Stormtech are a proud advocate of sustainability, and offer a number of sustainable drainage solutions to homes that may need alteration or extension.

With the 2021 shortlist finalised, we are proud to announce the finalists for the Single Dwelling (Alteration) category for 2021. Please find them below.

Chelmer Flood House

Hamilton Courtyard House

Light House
Alexander Symes Architect

Little Loft House
Light House Architecture and Science

Sol House
Anderson Architecture

Suburban Sanctuary
Adapt Architecture

And with this group of finely designed homes, the winner of the Single Dwelling (Alteration) category at the 2021 Sustainability Awards will be announced in November this year. For more information and to find the full shortlist, head to


This article is brought to you in association with Stormtech, Proud Sponsors of the Single Dwelling (Alteration) category at the 2021 Sustainability Awards.