The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

 

Construction creates about 50% of Australia’s waste output. And a building’s energy footprint is largely based on the material’s embodied energy. With that in mind, Sydney architects Luigi Rosselli and Raffaello Rosselli took an undervalued waste product, the ubiquitous terracotta roof tile, and redesigned and re-appropriated it. The subsequent result, a geometrically complex, brise-soleil has become known as The Beehive in Surry Hills.

The project started off by trying to find the right material to build a heat diffusing façade in order to filter out the harsh western sun. Whatever was selected also needed to maximise the amount of light coming through the small 8m wide frontage. The terracotta tile was chosen as it is easily sourced and without an adequate reuse market. Each terracotta tile with its raw elemental materiality, appealed to the project team. No tile was exactly alike; they were cast in clay and still fired by hand.

 

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

 

The design process was also unique for this building. Given the brise-soleil screen was geometrically complicated, multiple full-scale tests and hand-built prototypes were required. This opened up an intuitive form of designing through the making of the models. The tactility of the process allowed rapid prototyping, including experimenting with multiple tile course types.

These prototypes informed the final design, where each tile course was placed based on its function. The acute course was used at the bottom due to its strength, as well to obscure the solid spandrels. Equilateral tiles were used at eye level to reduce visual obstructions. While diagonal tiles were used at the top due to their low clearance and were angled north. The variation of tiles also allowed the architects to hide those pesky slab edges.

 

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

The Beehive in Surry Hills by Luigi Rosselli + Raffaello Rosselli | Yellowtrace

 

The façade retains the feeling of the two-storey warehouse to the south, with the top level being set back. The curved awning raises above the first floor to match its context and provides a generous interface with the street.

Internally the building houses, amongst other commercial spaces, a light-filtered architecture studio designed as an environment to stimulate creativity and teamwork: a ‘Beehive’ of architects.

On the top floor is a communal garden terrace. Below this level, a conference table is semi-enclosed by a terracotta tile bookshelf, another variation of the stacked terracotta module, brought into the interiors. The multiple uses of the terracotta tiles have been part of the education process that the architects hope will demonstrate to the public it is possible to reuse waste products from the construction process. And, at the same time, harness their inherent beauty.

 

See more projects by Luigi Rosselli on Yellowtrace.

 

 


[Images courtesy of Luigi Rosselli. Photography by Prue Ruscoe, Ben Hosking & Raffaello Rosselli.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

One Response

  1. Howard Cosell

    If you can judge a projects success by its originality then this one is a winner big time. Incredible use of materials in novel ways. I don’t buy all of them but some blow me away.

    Reply

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