The Duplex is an elegant dichotomy of conserved old world grace and urbane functional design by Luigi Rosselli Architects

Architecture Interior
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2The Four-Storey Redeveloped Block © Justin Alexander
Project Credits:
Location: Potts Point, Sydney NSW
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli, Jane McNeill, Hugh Campbell
Project Architect: Jane McNeill, Hugh Campbell
Interior Design: Jane McNeill
Heritage Consultant: John Oultram
Heritage & Design Builder: BWO Constructions Pty Ltd
Structural Consultant: Rooney & Bye Pty Ltd
Hydraulic Consultant: Rooney & Bye Pty Ltd
Joiner: Space Joinery
Landscaper: Susan Miles Landscape Architect
Photography: Justin Alexander / Edward Birch

Based in Australia, the Luigi Rosselli Architects is a design studio that aims to create humane architecture that develops kinships while inspiring good design that appeals. With Ar. Rosselli’s three decades of international experience spanning in Milano, Switzerland, New York and Sydney, his team is known for residential architecture, adaptive re-use and heritage conservation with a portfolio boasting of a variety of projects. The design studio is a carbon neutral practice that develops ecologically sustainable solutions; a practice that has attracted various clients belonging to diverse backgrounds.

18Conceptual Sketch of the Four-Storey Block
1The Four-Storey Redeveloped Block © Justin Alexander
16Conceptual Sketch of the Four-Storey Block
15The scissor balconies of the back elevation are angled to offer side views while maintaining the building’s rear alignment with the neighbouring properties. The Council thought but resisted the tempation to emacitate the elevation by cutting it back to a flat façade. Sydney City Council is a design intelligent council, a rare thing in that level of authority. © Edward Birch

Situated in the Potts Point locality in Sydney, this interwar duplex, reminiscent of the New York brownstones, was originally a 1920s era two-storey flats. The structure now has been altered into a four-storey block with a basement car park and cellar, a ground floor garden apartment and a twostorey penthouse. The design is a human scale solution to the issue of housing in the outskirts of the city.

2The Four-Storey Redeveloped Block © Justin Alexander

Most of the existing structure was retained, with only about forty per cent of it was demolished. The redundant rooms at the back of the property were dismantled and were supplanted with a modern four-storey building.

14The original frontage of the duplex apartments, with their shingle skirted bow windows and a new entry stair, wedged between dark liver pressed bricks. © Justin Alexander
17Conceptual Sketch of the Conserved Part of the Building
3Sir Norman Foster’s unfinished tower, the Art Gallery of New South Wales awaiting their SAANA Architects additions, Woolloomooloo Wharf with the W Hotel, are part of the City views enjoyed by these Duplex apartments. © Justin Alexander
4All floors have a view. The main bedroom bed could be linked to the city office with a flying fox. Classic Diamond Chair by Harry Bertoia. Curtains by the Curtain & Blind Factory © Justin Alexander

In order to maintain the building’s uniformity with the prevailing appearance of the street, the original Queen Anne leadlight windows, liver toned brickwork and timber shingles were left untouched. It is astonishing that behind the façade of the polished front rooms the apartment transforms in contemporary, unrestricted living spaces with expansive terraces. These open areas let the residents to appreciate the many vistas of the city, inhabited by sky scrapers designed by stalwarts such as Renzo Piano, Sir Norman Foster and Igenhoven Architects as also adore the glimpses of the Sydney Harbour beyond.

6The internal stair of the penthouse needs to compete with a lift, and so provides and pleasurable and senusual ascension to the upper living spaces. Placed between the old and new parts of the building it forms a vertical and horizontal connection. © Justin Alexander
7Spiral staircases have a unique characteristic in creating a rigid and self-supporting form that requires no beams or columns. In this case the spiral plywood balustrade is a strong shape that will not distort. © Justin Alexander
8The best aspect of this stair is how the balustrade is overlaid with the original mid 1920s window, retaining its outlook and light. © Justin Alexander
11The monochrome kitchen opens out onto a terrace. Joinery by Space Joinery, Lighting by Tangent Light , splashback design by Jane McNeill, Tiles by Bisanna Tiles. © Justin Alexander

The complex personalities of the residents are portrayed by the dichotomy of the design; a modern, urbane attitude balanced with old world culture and family history, enthusiastic about contemporary art, architecture and cosmopolitan living. In this scenario, an important role is played by the interior décor than in a more capacious suburban setting.

5“Mirror mirror… who in this realm is the fairest of them all?” Jane McNeill’s masterful joinery is hard to beat with its dark American oak timber veneers, carara marble benchtop, polished chrome framed mirror, ottoman by Eileen Grey and frosted glass wall between the dressing room and ensuite bathroom to provide defused natural light for this otherwise landlocked space. © Justin Alexander
9Bookcases and a television blend in amongst the owner’s collected art, including paintings by Euan McLeod and Sali Herman, and their design classic furniture pieces including a Hans J Wegner ‘Papa Bear’ wingback chair and ottoman. (right). To the rear of the image the lift door can be seen, integrated into a bookshelf. © Justin Alexander

So as to abridge the insides of a large house into this city pad, the functionality of every millimetre of space is planned with deliberation. With the diverse assortment of furniture and art; the adept joinery design by Project Architect Jane McNeill is directed to provide the maximum possible storage for the owners. At the same time, the design lends refinement to the interior décor in touches such as the dressing table in the dressing room.

12Also with city views, the master ensuite bathroom features a graphicly angular corian benchtop, Lea Ceramica tiled floor carara marble bath surround and pure untiled walls. The morning ablutions are performed in a “cabinet d’ etude”, a study like space. © Justin Alexander
13The main bathroom is located in the 1920s part of the apartment and so features metro style ceramic tiles with the exceedingly tight grout joints characteristic of the period. © Justin Alexander
20Conceptual Sketch of the Bathroom
10A small library where one can read and contemplate the sky through a porthole window or glazed roofhatch. The stair, built on top of the kitchen pantry leads up to the roofhatch. © Justin Alexander

Gauging the learned owners and their love for their books, Jane crafted a library for them along with a study room with space for a snug arm chair, tucked behind the Jacobs Ladder. The ladder climbs up to a varnished roof hatch and a designed roof terrace, with a spa pool complete with a backdrop of the magnificent city skyline.

– Tanvi Naik, Volume Zero.

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