Pergola Extension transforms Victorian Melbourne home

Pergola Extension by Krisna Cheung Architects offers a contemporary touch to a Victorian Melbourne property, infusing it with sustainability and generosity of space

Home rooftop extension in melbourne
(Image credit: Derek Swalwell)

Part of a Victorian inner city Melbourne property, Pergola Extension by Krisna Cheung Architects is a project that aims to reimagine an existing, historic home and transform it into a dwelling fit for its purpose – a generous, domestic hub for a local family. Taking its cues from the existing house's translucent polycarbonate rear garage façade, the architecture team, headed by principal Ray Cheung, worked towards incorporating the polycarbonate sheeting into the roof and ceiling of the living and kitchen area, opening up the composition towards the rear garden, while forming a pergola – the element that lends the residence its name. 

Translucent rear exterior of home extension

(Image credit: Derek Swalwell)

The material and contemporary shapes and nature of the pergola structure clearly highlight the extension as a contemporary addition. Inside, an open plan, created by relocating the existing kitchen and opening up the interior into a flowing living and dining space without corridors or partitions to break up its continuity, feels generous and at one with the planted spaces outside. 

The changes implemented by Cheung were not merely aesthetic. ‘Victorian houses in inner-city Melbourne lack habitability and quality of the environment as they aren’t well considered in terms of heating, cooling, or daylighting,' says Cheung. ‘The design interventions drastically improve natural ventilation and daylighting, thus reducing overall energy consumption alongside providing a healthy environment.'

Contemporary garden and pergola in melbourne house extension

(Image credit: Derek Swalwell)

Sustainable strategies also include an acoustically and thermally well-insulated polycarbonate roof and ceiling, natural ventilation and the reuse of bricks and timber flooring from the old house (the rear façade bricks were used for the garden's landscaping, for instance).

Pergola Extension's creator, Krisna Cheung Architects, is no stranger to working with awkward urban sites and creative inner-city building solutions. Earlier work, such as Colour Shingle House in North Melbourne, treats an existing property with similar flair and creativity. The studio's work keeps a relatively low profile – and often is the result of a modest budget – while achieving maximum impact through spatial generosity and optimising functionality and personality in the final design.

Interior of modern melbourne house and extension

(Image credit: Derek Swalwell)

View from above at modern melbourne house extension

(Image credit: Derek Swalwell)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from