Retrofitting a heating and cooling system into an existing building requires a well-considered solution to ensure that it works efficiently and effectively and also preserves the integrity of the architecture – even more so when that building is a luxury display home. Custom home builder Mazzei engaged Mod Cons to design just such a solution for its three-storey, flat roof display home in Balwyn, a building that had included no allowances for HVAC in its construction.

The first challenge was to find an appropriate place for a concealed indoor fan coil unit. As it couldn’t be installed in the roof, which is typically the most desirable location, Mod Cons constructed an airtight alcove outside the building, adjacent to an internal staircase. An AirSmart Compact Indoor Environment System was specified for the project, as it would deliver the required performance while also fitting into the available space.


The second challenge was to work out how to integrate ducting and grilles for minimal visual impact on the building’s sleek interior. There were no dropped ceilings or bulkheads in the open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge area, so Mod Cons incorporated a single linear slot grille on the far side of the room, where it can be barely seen. This one grille provides enough heating and cooling capacity for the large volume of space, even accounting for a double-storey void that opens to the upper level of the home. And as in all Mod Cons solutions, it was positioned to align with the architectural features of room. “We considered the placement and angles of all architectural and decorative elements, so the grille appears as part of the building, rather than an add-on inserted at a later date,” says Mod Cons senior consultant Brendan Grossman. This approach was taken throughout, including in wet areas, where ventilation exhausts are fully integrated with heating and cooling grilles.

Automated blinds on the west-facing windows help reduce heating and cooling loads and mitigate the glare of the afternoon sun, and the house is divided into four zones with Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats and occupancy sensors ensuring maximum efficiency and optimal temperatures at all times. Importantly for Mazzei sales representatives, the automation allows temperatures to be monitored and adjusted remotely via smartphone, so they can make sure the house is set to the perfect temperature before they visit with potential clients.