Luigi Rosselli, of Italian origin, has a distinctive sculptural style of design. His design ideas accommodated styles and functions, both. He has created many sympathetic and culturally relevant buildings in the last 40 years of practice, some of which are spoken about in this essay. 

1. Earth, Wind and Fire, the Village House

True to its name, the Village House combines the elements of nature to delicately flaunt the strength of architecture. A marriage between the traditional and the contemporary styles assembles a dreamy vibe for the residents at the upper north shore of Sydney, Australia. The distinguishing characteristics of the Village House are the rammed earth chimney, which is exceptionally arresting; the hierarchical roof, which makes the house intriguing and a flat-roofed veranda which gives a breezy and peaceful look. However, the big part of the success lies in the usage of local materials such as limestone flooring and timber trusses and details such as cedar shingles and plywood shutters. The house was built in two phases. The interiors of the new addition to the house keep reflecting the original classic atmosphere that the house was meant to proffer when built-in 1910. 

Personally, the proportions of the trussed roofs, the rammed earth chimney and the bold lines connecting the original house to the new one captivated my interest. I would call this, “disproportionately proportional”. 

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View of the Village House from its sprawling garden_©Justin Alexander

2. Hill House

Built in 2019 on over 60,000 square feet of contoured land, the Hill House steals the views of the harbour and the shores from Bellevue hill. Various ways of embracing this view are designed on all the floors. Further, the views are enhanced by floor-to-ceiling height windows with metal frames. Designed for a family of six, the house is an exemplary collaboration between Luigi Rosselli Architects and Decus Interiors. The effortless use of various building materials and the choice of designer furniture create a light and airy atmosphere for the owners. One of the special features is the ramp that connects all three floors and also allows natural light and ventilation. The run-of-the-mill sturdy staircase railing brings back the memories of the past and, at the same time, allows our focus on the supremely sophisticated interiors.

The heavy arched buttresses of sandstone on the ground floor are my favourite. Though built on a height, those arches give a feeling of near-to-ground. 

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The panoramic view from one of the decks and a view from the inner courtyard_©Nicholas Watt
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The panoramic view from one of the decks and a view from the inner courtyard_©Nicholas Watt

3. The Great Wall of Wa

The iconic multi-residential project in North-western Australia has won numerous awards and the title of longest rammed wall construction (230 meters). It consists of twelve apartments to accommodate short-term cattle musterers and has a 450 mm thick rammed earth façade and dune to its rear view. Built vernacularly, the apartments are naturally cooled and metaphorically, the apartments re-establishes the primordial connection between human activities and nature. The building materials were acquired from the nearby river bed, even the polished concrete slab was cast using the aggregates from the same river bed. This project has raised the bar for rural housing, vernacular buildings and climate-responsive architecture. Truly, a well-thought project, that also compels necessity!

By this approach to construction – building with rammed earth. This might be one of the solutions for rural housing in the global South.

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Aerial view of the Great Wall of WA_©Edward Birch

4. The Beehive

Rejecting the timeworn approach of using terracotta tiles, the office of the Rosselli revamps the terracotta tiles into its geometric revelation. The father-son duo (Luigi Rosselli and his son Raffaello Rosselli) explore material waste streams and reusing construction materials approaches. Acknowledging that waste building materials have nearly zero embodied energy, Raffaello Rosselli has experimented to test material strength and probable usage. For example, the courses of terracotta tiles in the façade are designed to create strength and justify its function from the inside as well. The ample usage of terracotta tile in the interiors validates the ideal with which this project was initially approached. 

Undoubtedly, the use of terracotta tiles is attention arresting. It is a hope that more projects like this come in the future with more material exploration. 

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The front façade of the Beehive_©Ben Hosking

5. Pompei’s

“….a fresh scoop of Venice into Bondi’s assorted Sundae”. By Luigi Rosselli.

Popular for his residential buildings, this project takes us back to where Luigi Rosselli originally came from. Having spent his childhood and early adulthood in Italy, Pompei Trattoria’s pizzeria and gelateria have all the shades of an Italian café. The colourful walls of the café perfectly complement the laid-back lifestyle of Bondi beach, where the café is located. The conscious use of natural light blending with the subtle pedestrian lamps and delicate chandeliers on the walls is warming, cosy and ample. Finally, the rustic dining tables and heavy wooden false ceilings hold you just to stay a little longer. 

Imagining the experience of this café makes me feel intrigued. It has boldness, cosiness, and openness and is pleasing to the eyes. 

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Pompei’s at Bondi Beach, Australia_©Yann Audic

6. The Subiaco Oval Courtyard

Located in the Subiaco neighbourhood in the suburbs of Perth, the Oval Courtyard house best pictures the architectural style of Perth in the early 1900s. The enigmatic feature of the house, the oval-shaped courtyard is a bridge between the mystery and the evidence. Among the other impressive characteristics are the proportions of the courtyard, the louvred wall cladding around the courtyard, the timber deck that run around the courtyard, and the criss-cross modelled brickwork giving a bucolic look to the courtyard and the facades, the minimalistic contemporary interiors enhancing the living experience and concrete steps rooted in the entrance porch that feels fundamental. 

The interface between the evocative oval courtyard and the rooms surrounding it is the vibe. 

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The Subiaco Oval Courtyard – Ariel view_©Edward Birch

7. Paddington Terrace House

An architectural regeneration project deliberately connects the present to the past and yet fulfils the demands of the future. Stationed in the eastern suburb of Sydney city, this house faced all the common issues of an old terrace house, such as dampness and lack of sunlight. Ingeniously, the redesign not only solved those issues but gave an entirely new emotion to the home. Being a regeneration project, the interiors played a significant role in giving new life to the home. The bright colours are the focal points dominating the plain wall and wall furniture. The play of yellows and blues personifies the rich heritage and elevates grandeur.  

The rear façade, open to the sky, where ample sunlight can be experienced is the game-winner, in my opinion. 

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the rear view of the Paddington Terrace house_©Justin Alexander
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the front view of the Paddington Terrace house_©Justin Alexander

8. Library in Fernery

Yet another reconstruction project was remodelled after a raging fire destroyed hundreds of books and a good part of the house. While the façade was repainted and polished the interiors changed the experience of the house. The new interiors are a blend of white and rustic wooden pallets. The theme of arches flows from exteriors to the interiors. As the name suggests, the home houses thousands of books in various rooms and different levels. With the idea of reusing maximum from the original house, the architects have tried to restore most of the architectural elements and added some new elements. 

The favourite space in this home would be the library on the mezzanine floor. A paradise for book-lovers. 

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Mezzenine floor of the Library in Fernery_©Edward Birch

9. Raise the Roof

Originally built in the 1980s, this house has undergone several renovations as the need of the owners evolved. A sagacious approach to using contours, “Raise the Roof” house stands out in proportions and is yet human in scale. One can only imagine the breeze through those clerestory Californian windows. The other remarkable architectural features of this house are the skylight of the attic windows, the subtle yet dominating landscape which merges the outdoors into the indoors, the curvy swimming pool which breaks the stubborn lines of the rear façade, the decks opening up to a panoramic view of Bellevue hill and the flamboyant interiors that stand out among the white walls and stone cladding on the walls. 

The open kitchen in the pastel pallet is one of my favourite spaces in the house. 

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The roof of “Raise the Roof” house_©Justin Alexander

10. Wiston Gardens 

Can you imagine renovating a house where you add several spaces to completely change the look and feel of the home? Luigi Rosselli added a library, playroom, family room and a pool house with a swimming pool tendering more space for the growing family. The spaces were added on the rear side of the house and in the basement which necessitated redoing the interiors as well. The classic stone cladding in the open and semi-open spaces contrasts the otherwise contemporary expression of the house. 

The numerous inner courtyards that follow the functions around it are attention-seeking. 

one of the inner courtyards at Wiston Gardens_© Justin Alexander

References:

Online sources

  1. Luigi Rosselli Architects (2013 – 2018). Residential. Public and Commercial. Multi-residential. [online]. Available at: https://luigirosselli.com [Accessed date: 01/07/2022].

Images/visual mediums

  1. Justin Alexander (2018). Earth, Wind and Fire, The Village House, Luigi Rosselli Architects. [photograph].
  2. Nicholas Watt (2019). A pulpit over Sydney Harbour is the perfect point to contemplate the big picture. [photograph].
  3. Nicholas Watt (2019). The design of the rear elevation of this home originated from the steep slope of the site. [photograph].
  4. Edward Birch (2018). Rammed earth extracted from the local clay pans, pebbles and gravel quarried from the river bed is the palette of materials that blend into the landscape. The pavilion at the top is the multi-functional hub, meeting room and chapel. [photograph].
  5. Ben Hosking (2018). By night, the building reveals a different character, more translucent and less abstract. [photograph].
  6. Yann Audic. (2014). Pompei’s. [photograph].
  7. Edward Birch. (2018). The Subiaco Oval Courtyard. [photograph].
  8. Justin Alexander. (2019). Paddington Terrace House. [photograph].
  9. Edward Birch. (2018). Library in Fernery. [photograph].
  10. Justin Alexander. (2013). Raise the Roof. [photograph].
  11. Justin Alexander. (2015). Wiston gardens. [photograph].
Author

Shikha is an urban planner whose work is focused on climate responsive planning and ecosystems in neighbourhood planning. She has a keen interest in comprehending human connections in city spaces through ways of engaging with the community. Her passion for books, travelling, fiction and research writing keeps her motivated.

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