Renaissance Villa Renée

Never demolish! This is the war cry of the many architects concerned by the large environmental impact of urban renewal if we continue to bring down existing buildings. The material waste, and the labour required to raze to the ground perfectly functional buildings, plus the environmental cost of landfill and the replacement of the old with new materials and labour is a crime, so they say, and so they are correct.

We should also add that our own concern is for the loss of cultural artifacts that are all-too-often replaced with inferior products. The architects of today are too concerned by the implementation of multiple codes, rules, and technologically complex systems that they have little time left for the quality of the design itself.

This 1930s home, designed by Glynn Gilling, was one such example of how a comparatively small renovation brief, to integrate a garage, a basement level play area for the kids, and a gym, led to an architect planning the quasi-total demolition of the house. Instead, Luigi Rosselli Architects approached the brief with a lighter touch, connecting the additions to the southern side of the house, taking care to balance it out with the northern loggia. The two-storey addition is expressed in a minor key, free of the decorative embellishments of the rest of the original house, but augmented with contemporary elements such as steel windows, and a roof garden.

Small modifications in the form of minimal pivot hinged doors and steppingstones were made to the northern loggia with the intention of providing a better flow from the living room to the garden. The stepping-stones were a compromise between the client’s wish for a paved area, and Luigi Rosselli Architects’ intention for the lawn and planting to lap up the sides of the building.

Modifications were made to the stairwell to connect it internally to the basement and to bring light to every floor. With the existing stair it seemed as though Gilling had been frustrated by the tight budgets of the era and the confined space it occupied, and so the stair was entirely redesigned to provide additional breathing space and allow the inclusion of additional windows and a skylight to bring a warm glow to each level of the house.

The family’s three young children commissioned Luigi Rosselli Architects to add a swimming pool to the rear courtyard, its grown-up, Moresque inspired patio allows the adults the opportunity to enjoy the pool at a deeper level, encouraging the imagination to travel beyond the boundaries of its surroundings.

Assisted and encouraged by our client’s acute sense of good taste, Interior designers, Handelsmann + Khaw transformed the interiors of the house into a comfortable, artful, and sensually attractive home.

The transformation of this home is a renaissance of Glynn Gilling’s original vision, the renewal of a dwelling soon to become a centenarian, born in times of penury and reborn in a time of affluence without succumbing to the pitfalls of the opulence of today, and learning the lessons of reuse and repurpose form the past.

Location: Sydney, NSW
Council: Municipality of Woollahra, NSW
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli
Project Architect: Diana Yang @Architect.di
Landscape Architect: Bates Landscape
Structural Consultant: GZ Consulting Engineers Pty Ltd
Interior Designer: Gillian Khaw for Handelsmann + Khaw
Builder: Buildability Constructions Pty Ltd @Buildability_Constructions
Joiner: Blank Joinery
Joinery Stone Supply: Granite & Marble Works
Photography: Prue Roscoe
Stylist: Joseph Gardener @joseph_gardner


© Copyright Luigi Rosselli Architects 2013-2018. All Rights Reserved.