Bellevue Hill House – Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects

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Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Located on the low side of the street, the first thing one notices about the house is the roof form. The stairwell volume, with its lightening shaped zinc roof by Sterland Roofing dominates, while the garage is concealed below a green roof.

Project: Bellevue Hill House
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli
Project Architects: Rebekah Munro, Blake Letnic
Landscape Architect: Tropic of Sydney
Structural & Hydraulic Consultant: Charles Blunt for Rooney & Bye Pty Ltd
Interior Designer: Decus Interiors
Builder: Critharis Constructions
Joiner: Enth Degree Projects
Zinc Roof: Sterland Roofing
Steel Windows: All Metal Projects
Stonemason: Divine Cornerstone
Year 2019
Photography: Nicholas Watt
Text and photos provided by Luigi Rosselli Architects

Designed on a steep site, located just below the summit of Bellevue Hill, this substantial residence has been endowed with an eagle’s nest panorama. The harbour is Sydney’s stage set and here on this hill we sit in the dress circle of this theatrical city, the stalls, with their restricted views, lie below in the flat and crowded areas of the town.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects

Sydney belongs to a family of towns, nestled on a rocky escarpment that rises over a water basin, much like Lisbon in Portugal, Lausanne in Switzerland and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. While the ancient Romans preferred flat land, where their rational street grids could be laid out undisturbed by changes in topography, the ancient Greeks, on the other hand, settled on high ground that provided great vistas and created more irregular and naturalistic street layouts.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
A pulpit over Sydney Harbour is the perfect point to contemplate the big picture. This magnificent cantilever, produced with an ease and structural elegance the new generation of engineers struggle to achieve is the swan song of our favourite structural engineer, Charles Blunt, now retired.

Sydney’s early European settlement was influenced by romanticism and its passion for the picturesque landscape. Once Sydney town’s commercial heart was established in the flattest part of Port Jackson Harbour, the wealthiest settlers moved to the hills east of the town; to the suburbs of Potts Point, Darling Point, Point Piper and Bellevue Hill, where they fell quickly in love with their views of the harbour and its picturesque shores. This love quickly became a possessive passion, and then a commodity. These views are sold by the square metre, and the Councils and the courts spend the majority of their time on residential matters arbitrating on disputes over views.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
The design of the rear elevation of this home originated from the steep slope of the site. The stone buttresses of the lower level firmly anchor and pin back the two upper levels. The panoramic views enjoyed by the Bellevue Hill House are enhanced by finely framed aluminium windows supplied by Vitrocsa.

In Sydney, views have become an almost pathological obsession and when considering views one should recall a saying paraphrased from Proust: ‘Let us leave pretty views to those with no imagination’.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Together the sandstone buttresses, the lined timber ceiling boards and the travertine floor form a powerful, tough and muscular base to this substantial residence.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
In order to brace the building and prevent it sliding downhill, the arches – skilfully executed by Divine Cornerstone – lean towards the top of the slope.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
A white concrete awning that widens towards the front door is pierced with a circular glass skylight to shed the rays of a solar spotlight on the entry.

doors, Luigi Rosselli Architects
Filtering glimpses of the interior a brass woven ribbon mesh provides strength. This mesh is an off-the-shelf product by Locker Group with one ribbon in every three removed. The handle design by Blake Letnic is something of a reflection of the architect’s character, at first glance appearing as a straightforward timber board, but concealing a beautifully moulded back section, ergonomically shaped to provide a strong grip. The door’s steel frame was crafted by Sergio and the team at All Metal Projects.

Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
A soft light descends the stairs. Stairs are the quintessential light and ventilation shafts of a house. In this case the three storeys of the Bellevue Hill House are connected by differing flights of stairs. Each flight widens the stairwell towards the top to funnel the light downward.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
If the front entry to a home is set at mid-level; higher than the main living areas but lower than the sleeping areas, it requires a careful balance that provides privacy and teases the eye. Upstairs the landing leading to the bedrooms is masked by a solid balustrade, downstairs the stair widens, leading to the light filled living areas. The Lindsey Adelman branching bubble chandelier. is a favourite of the interior designer, Decus Interiors and a suitable fit for Sydney’s real estate bubble. The paintings visible in the image are ‘Antara’ by Betty Kunita Pumani and ‘Sweets’ by Ildiko Kovacs.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Vertigo in a stairwell…

living room, Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
The six panels of Philip Wolfhagen’s landscape ‘Third Proposition: Triptych’ stretches over an extra wide fireplace mantle. The very horizontal nature of modern gas fireplaces is accentuated by the continuous marble hearth and backing. The Asturias marble is by Artedomus and, as the name suggests, it originates from the Asturias region of Spain, though importers often employ fictional names to discourage competitors from discovering the source of the marble; often coming from new and cheaper sources in Asia.

dining room, Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Walnut wall panelling reinforces the intimacy and warmth of this dining room. The slab of travertine flooring reflects filtered light from the garden during the day; at night it reflects the light from a Bolle chandelier by Gallotti & Radice designed by Massimo Castagna who, like Luigi, was also born in Milan in 1957. To the right is the bar joinery unit where the owner keeps his collection of rare whiskeys.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Late diners cannot arrive unnoticed; the white, sinuous shapes of the stair are very present in this dining room. Painting: ‘The Envoy’ by Alexander McKenzie

Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
A cobbled entry courtyard, surrounded by three sandstone walls reinforce the entry and converge on the front door. Steel windows by All Metal Projects are dramatically positioned at the corners of the Bellevue Hill House.

Bellevue Hill House - Sydney’s Dress Circle by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Sydney’s harbour bridge concludes the layered front elevation. The pedestrian gate is comprised of a steel frame with a woven brass fabric mesh infill. The street numbers are formed from extruded acrylic and lit from behind with LEDs.

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