It’s not uncommon to hear architects railing against council regulations. But in some cases, these design constraints can lead to a more integrated and human outcome.
Take Triplex Apartments by Luigi Rosselli Architects. The eastern Sydney site the architects had to work with is known for its prohibitive slopes and contours. The local council had implemented restrictions that forced architects and builders to limit residential building heights along these sloped sites; instead of building up, these council restrictions oblige stepped designs that follow the contours of the landscape.
For Luigi Rosselli, the solution was a triple set of terraced apartments, which came with a number of benefits from both an architectural and humanistic point of view. For the end user, the stepped apartments allowed for large terraces and private gardens – an outcome that was particularly “ideal for those who wish to downsize from a suburban house,” says the architect. These terraces were constructed using robust, concrete-edge beams that allowed for substantial awning structures. The concrete itself has been left exposed and horizontally fluted to provide “a robust structure”.
As for the architect, the restrictions meant a return to the roots of humanistic architecture. Luigi Rosselli himself worked under the tutelage of Romaldo Giurgola, an architect-mentor who taught Rosselli that buildings should be “open-armed”, so that they “welcome you at their entry point”. (An exemplar of this style is the Parliament House forecourt in Canberra, which has two outstretched arms that wrap around on each side to greet visitors.)
Triplex Apartments demonstrates this style within its front elevation, designed to be “slightly concave” so that the entry point feels like an embrace. The street frontage has also been left single-storey, which is sympathetic to the existing residential pattern of the street, and which softens the impact of recent rezoning. (According to the architect, this design strategy also made it easier to procure council approval.)
“Often, residential flats are designed with a rubber stamp; a repetition of plans, details and materials; the fruits of lazy architects or developers and their ovine psychology,” says Rosselli. “However, terraced apartments need individual layouts to suit the topography and the different arrival points of the vertical lift circulation.”
As a final, human-centric touch, the interior of the Triplex Apartments have been “personalised” with different finishes and an interior design scheme by Romaine Alwill.