An Homage to Craft – La Casa Rosa by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Sydney, NSW, Australia
La Casa Rosa sees Luigi Rosselli Architects join forces with a talented team of doers and thinkers to design a home that continues the original residence’s celebration of craft.
Reflecting upon John Ruskin’s 1849 essay The Seven Lamps of Architecture, the studio humbly accepts a key precept of the text: that the skill and craft of the builder was more important than the architect’s conceptualisation. Whilst this might be true of the era in which the original late Victorian residence was built, Luigi Rosselli Architects is without doubt the conductor of the deftly applied contemporary additions at La Casa Rosa. And in respect for the original home’s beautifully crafted details, the architects brought together an expert team including Buildability Constructions, interior designers Arent & Pyke and landscape designers Dangar Barin Smith to bring the project to life.
Located in the Sydney suburb of Bronte, the historical dwelling with washed-pink render announces itself modestly yet unapologetically to the street. From this, a first-floor addition delicately perches over the ridgeline, indicating to the passer-by that in fact something rather special is taking place beyond the façade. Clad with an inventively stacked brise soleil screen using recycled terracotta roof tiles, this symbolic homage to the cast iron fretwork of the entry porch wraps around the structure, creating a cohesive visual language from front to back.
A first-floor addition delicately perches over the ridgeline, indicating to the passer-by that in fact something rather special is taking place beyond the façade.
At the rear, concrete walls are impregnated with a matching pink pigment. Abstractly referencing the colour and shape of a flamingo, these walls were formed using timber boards whose grain can still be admired on the finished surface. Recessed deeply into this, slimline windows by Vitrocsa provide an airy interface between inside and out. Leading to the garden, sensual openings playfully engage with a mosaic-tiled swimming pool, the shell of which is a tranquil fragment retained from a previous addition in the 1980s. From underneath the concrete cantilever swivels an external light fixture by Lampe Gras, which creates a focal point for outdoor gatherings adjacent a firepit and sandstone bench.
Carefully curated, the living room features distinctive furniture offering whimsy and delight. This includes a plush elephant grey sofa by EDRA, an antique burr wood coffee table, and a glazed ceramic side table, all resting on an autumnally-dappled rug from 1st Dibs. Mirroring this, a slender mesh-encased Jetmaster fireplace offers an industrial touch to this otherwise stately domestic space. Three-quarter high curtains from Simple Studio provide privacy whilst allowing a glimpse of sky and foliage at clerestory level.
Carefully curated, the living room features distinctive furniture offering whimsy and delight.
When traversing from the living area to the kitchen, a number of visual and perceptual thresholds are passed. Underfoot, pale-coloured floorboards transition into terrazzo tiles. In front, white walls are rendered mute by midnight-brown joinery. Overhead, a gradually descending ceiling levels out before dramatically springing up again. Combined, these theatrical changes in material and volume demarcate the space as the culinary centre.
Throughout bedrooms, consciously detailed built-in joinery is lined in a dignified beech veneer that imbues an old-world charm. In bathrooms, travertine countertops and handmade tiles instil a luxurious yet rustic quality. In designing the home with an emphasis on quality explorations of material and technique, Luigi Rosselli Architects and the assembled team of craftspeople reverentially preserve the existing home whilst guiding it into the future. With this strong collaboration and equally strong emphasis on craft enriching the new iteration of the house, La Casa Rosa stands as an exemplar of both heritage and contemporary design.