Luigi Rosselli Architects

The Books House

Mosman, Sydney, Australia
10. April 2018
Photo: Justin Alexander
A Calligrapher handed three books to his wife, she placed them in a random stack on the table… “We want The Books House”… they said.
Project: The Books House
Location: Mosman, Sydney NSW, Australia
Architect: Luigi Rosselli Architects
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli
Project Architects: Kristina Sahlestrom, David Mitchell, Carl Rutherfoord
Interior Designer: Romaine Alwill of Alwill Interiors Pty Ltd 
Builder: Evolve Building Group Pty Ltd 
Structural Consultant: Rooney & Bye Pty Ltd  
Joiner: Contemporary Furniture Design
Zinc Roofing: Sterland Roofing Pty Ltd 
Stonemasonry: French Stonemasonry 
Brasswork: Warringah Aluminium 
Swimming Pool: Wright Pools 
Canvas Awnings: Creative Covers and Awnings 
Fireplace: Real Flame 
Aluminium Windows: Evolution Window Systems
Landscaping: William Dangar 

The concrete structure of each floor is oriented differently to suit the views, and also maximize the distances from the neighbors on each side. The 'layers' are reminiscent of a stack of books, plied up on a 'table' of sandstone. (Photo: Justin Alexander)
The Architect understood that the books were not only a reference to a home he had previously designed named The Six Degrees of Separation, but also to the ledges and shelves of Sydney-Hawkesbury sandstone outcrops that surface on the steep escarpments of the northern side of Sydney Harbour, including the block of land owned by the Calligrapher and the Businesswoman. 
The sandstone walls of the ground floor taper at the top to take loads of the concrete slabs. The same sandstone forms the crazy-paved terrace built over the garage roof. (Photo: Justin Alexander)
Weathered rock stratums have been replaced by off-form concrete slabs with soft edges, scissoring above a monolithic sandstone storey for the house. An elliptical concrete stair forms the pivot point of each floor of the house, anchoring them to the steep escarpment; the stair also wraps around a lift core that descends, mineshaft-like to link the rest of the house to the garage level. 
The wood grain of the concrete formwork contrasts with the curved frameless glass balustrade and the neat brass top handrail. This is the view the owners see in the morning when they get out of bed. (Photo: Justin Alexander)
The rock is integral to the house: from the basement to the uppermost level of the home, where the sandstone formations provide an ancient geological scenography. Both the living room and the Calligrapher’s study have views of the rock face with its gently curving set of steps, expertly carved from the stone that climb to an old Frangipani tree. They also look out over a small swimming pool and a cave excavated into the cliff side, perfect for meditation and longing for a Buddha.
Leading to the front door is a 'dragon' path expertly constructed by William Dangar with steel edgings containing stabilized gravel and sandstone steps. (Photo: Justin Alexander)
This home was designed following a reading of The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang, which is a must read in order to gain a greater understanding of the dwelling culture in China, this explains the “Dragon” path that meanders to the front door and is not just necessary to make climbing the steep hill less laborious but also to soften the approach to the house and abandon the straight geometry of the road.
One can avoid the dragon by tunneling from the garage to the lift through a sandstone-cut corridor. The ancient history of Gondwanaland is written on the walls and explains the unique topography of the site. (Photo: Prue Roscoe)
Luigi Rosselli and Kristina Sahlestrom have learned much from the Chinese building culture over the course of this project’s development, and The Books house is an embodiment and crystallisation of this ancient culture in stone and concrete.    
One climbs the elliptically shaped stairwell, attracted by the natural light, with a coarse off-form concrete core on one side and smooth set plaster, spray painted walls on the other. (Photo: Prue Roscoe)
The oval stair leads to the oval hall. Custom, full-height curved doors lead to the bedrooms and bathrooms. (Photo: Justin Alexander)
The brass stair is a subtle divider between the dining and living room and screens off the kitchen. (Photo: Prue Roscoe)
The dining room and the kitchen are spacious enough for another sitting room facing the view and the balcony. (Photo: Prue Roscoe)
Opposite the fireplace, through a moveable bookcase, one may be admitted to the Calligrapher’s study. Bookshelves form the walls of this room. (Photo: Prue Roscoe)
The study bookshelves face the ancient rock shelves and ledges that emerged in this steep escarpment. (Photo: Justin Alexander)
The Roman Emperor Hadrian had his study built with a moat circling it that he used to swim around. Our Calligrapher has his study levitating over the pool to keep his ink running. (Photo: Edward Birch)
First Floor Plan (Drawing: Luigi Rosselli Architects)
Ground Floor Plan (Drawing: Luigi Rosselli Architects)
Lower Ground Floor Plan (Drawing: Luigi Rosselli Architects)
Garage Floor Plan (Drawing: Luigi Rosselli Architects)

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