Grand Designs Australia: Hawthorn's Power Street residence

Grand Designs Australia: Hawthorn’s Power Street residence


Ever wondered what an architect’s house looks like? Take a peek inside Craig Rossetti’s Power Street Residence

Moving house can be a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, there’s a fresh start and new memories to make; on the flip side, there’s the never-ending costs and general hassle of picking up your life and putting it down somewhere else. After moving houses 11 times, Craig Rossetti’s 13-year-old twins put their feet down and said “no more moving!” So the architect decided to design a home that would hopefully last for many years to come.

After Craig, from Rossetti Architects, acquired a sizeable pocket of land on a busy road in Hawthorn, the decision was made to subdivide the site and sell off the extra space, which also had a large Victorian residence on it. The inspiration behind Craig’s design, which was for his family and their pet Jack Russell, sprung from the laneway that runs behind the old house — think cobblestones and the garage doors of neighbouring homes. Although the residence is quietly unassuming from the street, don’t be fooled by first appearances. The low entryway is home to moody colourways and a generously proportioned pivot door that’s a sign of big things to come.

“The house is a series of spaces and starts at the bluestone lane, where oversized plinth boards run vertically to create an exterior that is dark and removes expectations,” says Craig. All good designs have an element of surprise, and the Power Residence’s is in the form of a 5-metre-high northern-orientated space that is drenched in sunlight courtesy of an unusual structural curtain wall of steel and glass that lets the light in between the roof panels. The wall is also home to thermally broken double-glazed units which are fixed to its face.

But that’s not all the eco considerations that were factored into the design. In fact, the surrounding environment was the driving force behind the project. “The idea was to incorporate and delight in nature, thereby making people more aware of their place,” says Craig. “Roof panels are separated with glass and there are no edge gutters, which enables waterfalls to form that are visible from the inside.” The existing pool was reinvented as a 30,000-litre stormwater tank that goes through the cisterns, new pool and garden. There’s also a greywater system that waters the garden, along with the selection of double-glazed Viridian glass, 200mm insulated wall panels — giving an R10 rating for the roof — and the utilisation of cross-ventilation.

It can be easy to get carried away and build big instead of smart, but this residence has taken all the necessities of a family home without going overboard. Instead, a considered and restrained approach reigns supreme. The finished product features four bedrooms — including a parents’ retreat with ensuite and walk-in robe — study, two living areas, kitchen, double garage and two bathrooms. The furnishings take note from the home’s earthy ethos, with timbers and leather warming up dark walls and creating a cocooning and Zen-like ambience. Basking in all of nature’s glory, this house is a success story of working with the surrounding environment instead of trying to compete with it. In the Power Residence house, you have to crack the shell to get to the gooey bits, which in this case is a home that’s at one with nature.

Written by Annabelle Cloros

Originally in Grand Designs Australia Volume 6 Issue 4