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AR_EA Australia: Raffaello Rosselli

‘The ambiguity of hand drawings allows you to discover unexpected directions’

Who are you? 
Young architect working out of Sydney, having just returned from a year living and working in Hanoi, Vietnam, with architect Vo Trong Nghia.

Where are you based, what city?
Sydney, Australia with a foot still in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Where do you come from?
Sydney, Australia.

Why did you become an architect?
I started study as a sculptor, and loved the manipulation of materials and how they come together. I was drawn to architecture as it allowed this same manipulation of materials but applied to a space you inhabit rather than just an object to be admired.

What kind of work do you do?
My first solo project was an adaptation of a Tinshed in a post-industrial inner-city suburb of Sydney into a studio space. This project explores the relationship between materials and time, and reused the many layers of corrugated iron that had built up on the original shed over time. Last year I was working with Vo Trong Nghia in Vietnam, who is known for his large bamboo structures. 

What is the context (social, political, architectural) in which you are working?
Sydney, a city flush with money and a booming real estate industry, but highly regulated and risk adverse, is often conservative when it comes to architecture and design. Coming from this context to Hanoi, a bustling city steeped in tradition that at the same time feels full of opportunities, was a stark contrast as it has little regulation and often little money. Being relatively unconstrained by regulations allows more space for experimentation and imagination, and architects have more freedom to try out new ideas. 

What inspires you these days?
I am inspired by the vernacular. My Tinshed project in Sydney was a re-working of the humble tin shed, an iconic Australian structure. In Vietnam I was inspired by the traditional use of bamboo and other basic materials.



What project are you most proud of and why?
As Australia is such a young country [in terms of permanent buildings], it is often hard to find a history and identity to base your architecture. The Tinshed project restored an often overlooked part of Australian vernacular and I believe helped start a discourse of our modern urban history. The existing shed was dilapidated and structurally unsound, so was carefully disassembled, a new structure built and the layers of corrugated iron accumulated over generations of repair were reassembled on three façades. The project embraces that it will continue to change with time through rust, decay and repair. 

What is unique about your work?
I try to use materials in novel ways, I want the material to talk about its history or its maker.

What is your favourite building material or building technique?
I have not settled on a particular material or technique, I try to take a material that links to the site, view it from first principles and apply it to the project at hand.

How do you get ideas?
I try to take cues from the site, context and its history.

What are your favourite design tools (models, hand drawing, digital 3D modeling, SketchUp, etc.)?
I like using crude hand drawings to find an idea, their ambiguity allows you to discover unexpected directions.

What would be your ideal project?
I would like to build a small project with materials that are wholly from its context. Such as a hut perched on a sandstone outcrop surrounded by native Australian heath.

Where do you hope to go from here? 
I would like to keep working on projects that are born from their context but question the norm.

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