Harvesting Heritage

A heritage site integrates contemporary elements within a Victorian envelope

This house in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Australia combines the airs of Victorian styling with environmental consciousness. At the request of the client, project architects from Luigi Rosselli Architects worked with a number of energy consultants and counselors to retrofit the heritage home with renewable energy. Before they could begin, however, years of architectural accretion had to be peeled away to reveal the original structure. From this juncture, Luigi Rosselli began to carefully integrate contemporary elements in the form of cabinetry, windows and doors, creating a balanced blend of old and new.

Woollahra by Luigi Rosselli Architects | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by Justin Alexander.

The capacious interior overflows onto the surrounding terrace and portico, facilitated by industrial French doors that open up to the backyard. The family room is positioned adjacent to the covered patio, encouraging inside-outside transitions. Minimalist details, like the room's sunken track lighting, help make for a serene setting. Two of Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chairs can be found opposite a cream sofa, in keeping with Rosselli's vision for the property. “The plan was to combine the rich, heritage character of the house with elements that are unabashedly contemporary, like the striking pair of black Wassily Chairs,” Rosselli says of their inclusion.

In the modern wing, the dominant palette of grays and whites is offset by a dramatic, suspended light sculpture by Lindsey Adelman. The custom-built piece helps unite the different levels of the three-story space, enveloped by a spiral staircase that wraps around the snake-like structure. 

Woollahra by Luigi Rosselli Architects | Knoll Inspiration

“The plan was to combine the rich, heritage character of the house with elements that are unabashedly contemporary, like the striking pair of black Wassily Chairs.”

—Luigi Rosselli

Photograph by Justin Alexander.

The envelope is made up of charcoal windows, which contrast nicely with the recently whitewashed stucco façade. Residual ornamental detailing, like the building’s cornice, sings against the new neutral backdrop.

Woollahra by Luigi Rosselli Architects | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by Justin Alexander.

The project joins Luigi Rosselli Architects' ongoing investigations into what consitutes heritage architecture. As with the archaeological dig sites of ancient villas, the various layers of architectural intervention have been thoughtfully preserved, ensuring disparate elements of each generation remain intact.

Project Credits:

Design: Luigi Rosselli Architects
Photography: Justin Alexander

 

Wassily Chair