Text description provided by the architects. At the summit of Bellevue Hill a centennial Peppertree rises over the skyline; two homes lie beneath its vast canopy. To one side of the fence, The Oculus House and to the other, Peppertree Villa, a skilfully designed late 1920s home. One day the owners of the two homes met under this tree; they discussed botany and architecture. This was how Luigi Rosselli Architects came to be selected to respectfully revive and refresh this beautifully designed residence.
During the 1920s, while Europe sought to wash away the trauma of World War I through radical architectural styles such as constructivism and cubist inspired modernism, Australia chose to find comfort in the familiarity of classicism. Mediterranean classicism provided the dominant source of inspiration for homes built at ‘the top end of town’. With the Peppertree Villa, this classicism was expressed through a grand entry loggia or portico to the side of the house, and magnificent fireplaces and well-proportioned rooms to its interior.
The aim of the Luigi Rosselli Architects improvements was to provide better flows between the various living spaces, open the spaces up to a new garden, and add a new basement garage, an attic room and a back yard swimming pool. A new stair was also added due to the necessity to connect the two new levels to the rest of the house, and to provide a more inviting ascension to the bedrooms on the upper floors.
The resulting stair takes the form of a suspended sculptural ribbon entirely detached from the walls of the stairwell. Luigi had to jump up and down on the treads to convince both the client and the builder of its strength and stability before they would consent to remove the temporary supporting props.
Every aspect of the design of the house was carefully workshopped by the Client (a renowned fashion designer), Project Architect Jane McNeill and Interior Designer Romaine Alwill. Romaine’s mastery of architectural finishes brought the introduction of lush, tactile elements such as the stucco lucido (polished plaster), brass metalwork, solid timber panelling, resin based wall claddings and bronze finishes to the cabinets.
On the ground floor, small timber windows have been replaced by larger, finely framed steel windows that offer uncluttered openings onto a new Myles Baldwin designed garden where the Peppertree still stands, casting a soft, dappled light across the walls and grounds of this villa reborn.