Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects

  • This home may not bare any connection with the band responsible for 70s disco hits, but it does take its name from the fundamental elements – earth, wind and fire – to deliver another kind of architectural chart topper.

    This project may share its name with one of the most iconic American bands from the 70s – but that’s not the only reason it’s turning heads. The Earth, Wind and Fire Home by Luigi Rosselli Architects (also known as The Village House among its design team) has made a name for itself in the design sphere by focusing on rammed earth. Described by Luigi Rosselli Architects as ‘the catalyst to bring together history, nature, malleability and softness’, rammed earth is exactly what spurred a complete transformation of a Federation era bungalow and its unsympathetic addition in Sydney.

    For Luigi Rosselli Architects, “Earth is one of the oldest construction materials known to man; it can be fired, as with bricks and tiles, or used in its raw state as with adobe or rammed earth.” The firm also credit the material for its softness that can be equally strong and weight bearing, while having a breathable skin. That’s exactly why they chose to build a seven-metre high rammed earth chimney as the symbolic element of the home and its relationship with the outdoors; traditionally the main focal point inside, that has now moved out of the home. Luigi Rosselli Architects called on Earth Dwellings for this responsibility, who’ve taken particular care in the process not to wet the earth too much to achieve the beautiful grainy texture. Under the firm’s guidance, Earth Dwellings have created a sculptural centrepiece to set this home far apart.

    Surrounding the chimney are multiple slate roof gables of different heights and pitches that extend out of the original part of the home and encompass the new wing on the ground floor. These architectural features, in addition to the cedar shingles and plywood shutters, are to intentionally contrast with the monolithic nature of the rammed earth. For gentle transition from the kitchen and dining area to the outdoor fireplace, Luigi Rosselli Architects designed a modern, flat-roofed veranda also offering a shaded, breezy zone.  Upstairs are the children’s bedrooms, in small mezzanines built into the roof form.

    The new additions are located to one side of the original home to best capture the northern sun, while a seperate wing contains the garage and laundry. Inside, Luigi Rosselli Architects said the skylights “provide an efficient passive solar system in combination with the thermal mass of the rammed earth wall”. So too do the rammed earth walls in addition to the recycled bricks, provide links that unite the historic features of the home with the new. Together the rammed earth, limestone flooring, timber trusses and timber joinery form a united, durable material palette for an extremely warm and liveable family home.

    In the expansive new kitchen space, the sumptuous navy cabinetry was designed by Luigi Rosselli Architect’s Monica Vogel Santos and the finishes selected by Alexandra Donohoe Church of Decus Interiors. We can certainly see Decus Interiors’ influence in the space, with the choice of one of their favourite lights, the Cloud Chandelier. As in this classic kitchen, the architectural language relates back to the atmosphere of the original house as a sign of respect and affinity yet is without mimicry. Perhaps the most daring new element is the curvaceous steel staircase, designed to reflect the family’s ‘live and play’ motto, just like the eccentric furnishing choices.

    The Earth, Wind and Fire Home by Luigi Rosselli Architects is equal parts experimental and down-to-earth, showing off the firm’s signature sculptural style and penchant for gently designing outside of the box.

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