The Cliff Top House, A Resplendent Home atop A Cliff by Luigi Rosselli Architects

1Photography: © Edward Birch
Project Credits:
Project Name: Cliff Top House
Location: Queens Park, NSW
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli, Naoko Nishizu
Project Architect: Luigi Rosselli, Carl Rutherfoord
Joinery: Carl Rutherfoord
Builder: Building With Options (B.W.O.) 
Structural Consultant: Charles Blunt of Rooney & Bye (Australia) Pty Ltd Consulting Engineers 
Interior Designer: Alexandra Donohoe of Decus
Joiner: Space Joinery 
Louvres & wall cladding: Magic Door Industries 
Awnings: Eclipse Opening Shade Systems 
Photography: Justin Alexander & Edward Birch

In recent past, architectural language has gravitated towards vertical forms, from the previous established horizontal settings, as a natural extension of the refined technologies presently uncovered, which allow greater support, and experimentation. Within the tenets of this, The Cliff Top House exemplifies vertical living, enhanced by its location at the top of a rock escarpment, in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, its stature defined by the surrounding Queens Park and the Centennial Park, which also serves to provide resplendent views. The form of the building would induce a positive impact on the neighbours, as well as the members of public who frequented the area, and Luigi Rosselli Architects successfully endeavoured to depict the same.

2Photography: © Edward Birch

Located on one of the best house sites in Sydney on a cliff overlooking the City and Centennial Park. Waverley Council is built on a large sandstone shelf with famous cliffs over Bondi and Tamarama, but this one is hidden on the slopes over Centennial Park.

Due to its location, atop a cliff, it is realised that a natural outdoor garden would be at the bottom of the cliff, and thereby inaccessible. Therefore, the design of the house is such that the levels have been staggered to mould out terraces and balconies within the form of the house, in order to provide for recreational space. The levels of the house, jutting out alternatively, with their crisp forms, in white, juxtaposed with fenestrations, embody simplicity and elegance. The ‘scissoring’ design is reminiscent of the natural rock ledges prevalent in the site and the coastal landscapes of Sydney, which is where the architect has drawn inspiration from.

3Photography: © Justin Alexander

“Scissoring” of the floors created entertaining terraces and children’s’ play areas. Adjustable vertical aluminium louvres by JWI louvres, and custom aluminium wall cladding keep the house cool.

4Photography: © Edward Birch

Building a multi-storey residence on top of a cliff requires good engineering to create a building that confidently hovers over it.

5Photography: © Justin Alexander

The balcony of the upper floor with glass balustrade for undisturbed views out over Queens Park and the picturesque Centennial Parklands. The stained timber decking and pergola create a private retreat for the owners.

6Photography: © Justin Alexander

The framed views of Sydney and the Blue Mountains in the distance from one of the terraces. In winter the terrace gets maximum warmth and sunlight, and is protected on two sides by building and large trees.

7The lightness of the structure hangs off the cliff escarpment and reaches out over Queens Park. Photography: © Justin Alexander

The western elevation of the house allows one to glimpse unique views of the city and the Blue Mountains, with the greenery of the gulley and adjoining parks acting as a dynamic foreground. The heat apparent from the western orientation is moderated by the design elements of louvers, shutters and balcony projections. All the habitable rooms have measures to protect direct sun penetration. The architects have adhered to ideal principles of designing. For instance, while the location of the house determined that the form be more vertical, the design was formulated to comprise of levels and shading devices, which would reduce the impact of heat within the spaces of the house. This has been furthered by wise usage of materials, thereby leading to the creation of a home, where the usage of air conditioning is not necessary.

3Photography: © Edward Birch

The Aluminium weatherboard cladding was designed by Luigi Rosselli Pty Ltd and manufactured by JWI Louvres.

9Photography: © Justin Alexander

A seamless wall of oil stained western red cedar timber cladding encloses the garage, bin store area and main entry. A full photovoltaic solar array & solar hot water system are hidden behind the roof parapet.

10Photography: © Justin Alexander

The window is protected for privacy with a horizontal aluminium louver pointing upwards, so that one can see the sky from inside.

11Photography: © Edward Birch

The texture of the sandstone and stained timber walls in the living room contrast with the sparseness of the study.

12Photography: © Justin Alexander

The interior designer and the children have transformed the living room into a comfortable refuge.


13Photography: © Justin Alexander

Dark stained timber flooring rises up under the white kitchen, finished with a fine edge Carrara Marble bench top. The door at the back accesses the pantry.


14Photography: © Justin Alexander

Winding its way from floor to floor, the staircase creates a light-well through the middle of the building. The frameless glass balustrade allows maximum light to penetrate down through each floor from the large first floor skylight.

15Photography: © Justin Alexander

Wood grain textured finished joinery lines the passage of the bedroom level providing more than ample storage for the entire family. A sliding door closes the children’s play room.

16Photography: © Justin Alexander

Frameless glass, a skylight and large windows all round bathe the ensuite with light. From this window the owners have unobstructed views over Queens Park and Centennial Park.

17Photography: © Edward Birch

Fabric covered joinery separate the master bedroom from the walk in robe.


Photography: © Edward Birch

A very private street frontage with tactile materials such as stone and cedar.

Artistic Representations and Original Conception

19Drawing: © Luigi Rosselli
20Drawing: © Luigi Rosselli
21Drawing: © Luigi Rosselli


Defined by its site, adding to its street, enhanced by the views it offers and designed to serve to its optimum, The Cliff Top House represents an ideal.

The Australian based practice, Luigi Rosselli, believes in approaching architecture through a humane point of view, with their aim not being accolades, but achieving and instilling good design and humane architecture.

The team comprises of architects and interior designers, who work under the guidance of the principal architect, Luigi Rosselli, whose experience spans three decades, and extends internationally, to Milano, Switzerland, New York and Sydney.

They have gained acclaim for designs of houses, residential spaces and adaptive reuse as well as designs for heritage, and their range encompasses offices, factories, libraries, wineries, childcare and chapels, evidently diverse. Their office endorses carbon neutral practices and application of sustainable building technologies and designed principles, as is evident in all their work.

With constant renewal and revision of ideas, derived from their vast experiences with clients from all walks of life and locations posing varied challenges, in their own words, they work determinedly to provide improved and enhanced design solutions.

– Devashree Vyas, Volume Zero.

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