What is the common connection between 1910 workers’ cottage design and modern, motorised architecture? In the case of one Luigi Rosselli project in Randwick, NSW, the answer is a swimming pool.
The aptly-named Pool House is, from the street frontage, a bit of an enigma. Despite a thorough addition and alteration by Luigi Rosselli Architects, the public-facing façade looks like the elegant, 100-year-old structure it is. That’s because, in the words of the architect, “repairing and adapting the old features are continuously threatened by the easy way out approach of removing them.”
On the other hand, maintaining these features and adapting new ones to live alongside them takes a degree of skill. The wraparound swimming pool, from which the project derives its name, is the pivotal feature of this old-meets-new approach. The bulk of the ‘C’-shaped pool is located in the backyard, with a single lane that shoots off from the main swimming area to hug the building’s corners.
“The wraparound swimming pool plays the starring role in these alterations and additions and becomes the architectural pivot that binds one hundred years of history,” says Luigi Rosselli.
Although the rear-facing addition is highly modern, Luigi Rosselli demonstrated their time-travelling dexterity with a coherent palette of materials and colours. Taupe, beige, brick, tiles and timber cladding work to unify one century of design, while the pool cleverly acts as a reflection of the garden greenery.
The addition itself keeps firmly to purpose as a liveable pool house. In space of a lawn, the lower glass-clad level opens straight out onto a bed of blue water. Grass has instead been installed below the windows of the upper level, on the narrow strip left where the two cantilevered rectangles miss each other.
Although the water element ties the levels together, each demonstrates a very different approach to privacy and sunlighting. While the lower level plays hide-and-seek with the sun, with motorised louvre screens that slide along large-form plate glass windows, the first-floor master bedroom level is closed, providing shade and rainproofing to the sleeping quarters.
“The first-floor bedrooms cantilever towards the backyard, being larger than the ground-floor living spaces,” explains the architect. “The two rectangular volumes are shifted, each with different wall constructions: very glazed and open downstairs, and closed upstairs. The bedrooms have two sliding shutters, manually controlled. The master bedroom back elevation is intended to direct the windows away from side neighbours.”
The horizontality of the design is reinforced by the insertion of three ‘strips’. Lengths of timber louvres are sandwiched between solid white wall elements, making the backyard addition look somewhat like two inverted Maxibons stacked on top of one another. A verandah and carport has also been added to the original building, detailed with traditional exposed rafters and ceiling lining boards – a completion of the original verandah.
The final linking element between old and new is found within Pool House’s interior. A spiral storage stair sits in the centre of the home; a “ribbon of white plaster” finished with enamel paint to protect it from children’s fingerprints. Hidden within this staircase is a storage area to the right that functions as a wine store, rounding out the list of required elements for any good Pool House.