Duplex & the City / Luigi Rosselli Architects

Duplex & the City / Luigi Rosselli Architects

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Duplex & the city / luigi rosselli architects
© Justin Alexander

Equivalent to the brownstones of New York, this interwar duplex is a humane scale solution to housing in the Sydney city fringes.

Shoulder to shoulder with other apartment buildings, the original 1920s two-storey flats were transformed into a four storey block with a basement carpark and cellar, a ground floor garden apartment and a two-storey penthouse.

Duplex & the city / luigi rosselli architects
© Justin Alexander

Just forty-percent of the existing structure was demolished, mainly the dysfunctional rooms at the back of the property, which were replaced by a modern four-storey structure.

The front of the property, with its original Queen Anne leadlight windows, liver toned brickwork and timber shingles, was left intact to preserve the building’s consistency with the prevailing style of the street. No one would believe that behind those refined front rooms the apartments would morph into modern open living spaces with generous terraces that allow the inhabitants to admire the views of the city, populated with skyscrapers designed by Renzo Piano, Sir Norman Foster and Ingenhoven Architects, and enjoy glimpses of Sydney Harbour beyond.

Duplex & the city / luigi rosselli architects
Sir 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

The duality of the design also reflects the personalities of the residents: urbane and loaded with old world culture and family history, yet passionate about modern art, architecture and urban living. Here the interior architecture plays greater role than in a more spacious suburban setting.

Duplex & the city / luigi rosselli architects
“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

The use of every millimetre has been carefully planned to condense the content of a large house into this city pad, with an eclectic collection of furniture and art; the skilful joinery design by Project Architect, Jane McNeill aimed to provide as much storage as possible for the owners, while lending elegance to the interiors in touches such as the dressing table in the dressing room.

Duplex & the city / luigi rosselli architects
Bookcases 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 Alexandre
Duplex & the city / luigi rosselli architects
The 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

The cultured owners could not part with their books, so Jane created for them a library and study area with room for a comfortable arm chair, tucked beside the Jacobs Ladder stair that climbs to a glazed roof hatch and a landscaped roof terrace and a spa pool with a city skyline backdrop.

Project Details:

Location: Potts Point, Sydney NSW, Australia
Architects: Luigi Rosselli Architects
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
Joiner: Space Joinery
Landscaper: Susan Miles Landscape Architect
Photographs: Justin Alexander / Edward Birch


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