December 15, 2017
We want the books house!
by Grace Larkin
Huge concrete slabs make “The Books House” in Sydney, Australia look like a stack of books on a “table” of sandstone. The private home, which was recently described (and photographed!) at designboom, is the creation of Luigi Rosselli, an Italian architect based in Sydney. Inspired by Chinese building culture, the architect designed the home after reading The Importance of Living by prominent mid-century author Lin Yutang. It’s three stories tall and overlooks Sydney Harbor. The occupants are a husband and wife, a calligrapher and businesswoman. The project website describes the building’s conception: “A Calligrapher handed three books to his wife, she placed them in a random stack on the table… ‘We want The Books House.’”
The bookish inspiration for the house also connects to the shelves and ledges of sandstone that occur naturally around Sydney. Concrete slabs—the “books”—sit on top of a huge, monolithic sandstone platform, and many of the rooms have views of the sandstone rock cliff by the pool. Plus, there’s a small cove carved into the rock face, which the architect calls “perfect for meditation and longing for a Buddha” — but clearly, in a house inspired by books, a rock cove is actually a spot for uninterrupted reading.
The bedroom balcony provides a beautiful, expansive view of Sydney Harbor. There is a “Dragon” path that curves up a hill to the entrance of the house. “If ascending is addictive,” as the architect puts it, there’s a minimalist brass staircase that leads from the living room to the roof, which Rosselli calls “a solar machine with PV panels, solar hot water units and solar pool heating.”
Something we all dream of, a moveable bookshelf that operates like a hidden passageway, serves as the entrance to the calligrapher’s study. According to the architect, “The Roman Emperor Hadrian had his study built with a moat circling it that he used to swim around. Our Calligrapher has his study levitating over the pool to keep his ink running.” This seems logical.
As Gaston Bachelard writes in The Poetics of Space, “The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” Hopefully this book house will allow for peaceful dreaming and reading. Indeed, we, too, want the Books House.
Grace Larkin is an intern at Melville House.