Seven years ago, Annie Rose (co-founder and director of Lift Education, a school-based sexual and social health education program) and Peter Rose (a lawyer), purchased a run-down property in Melbourne’s inner North. The house was known as the ‘railway cottage’, but Annie explains that this ‘quaint and charming’ descriptor belied the state of the property! Initially, their son Lachy and members of his band lived in the house, before Annie and Peter demolished the cottage to build their current home.
The couple worked with architects Maura Baracco and Louise Wright, a local firm with whom the Roses have a long history. Baracco and Wright had previously designed Annie and Peter’s Mornington beach house , as well as their previous apartment interior in Melbourne’s iconic Cairo building. Originally recommended to the Roses by a mutual friend, this long standing client/architect partnership relationship was cemented over a shared love of Robin Boyd. As well as appointing their architects, Annie and Peter engaged Julian Barlow of ATMA builders for the construction, who did an excellent job on the tricky shape of the unique home. ‘Every architect, builder, designer or trades person who has been to this house since its completion, has marvelled at the finish and craftsmanship that is evident in this build,’ Annie tells us!
Annie explained that their design brief to the architects was for a house ‘which would see us through the next steps of our lives (and hopefully forever).’ With now-adult children, the couple no longer required a large family home, nor space for games of cricket in the garden. After much consultation between clients and architects, two small, adjacent houses were designed for the irregular shaped block. The Roses are now proud owners of ‘two spacious houses and a lovely side garden on the site.’ Importantly, the house also incorporates a ‘decent sized wine cellar’ (priorities!).
The curving front and triangular shape of the building is a tip-of-the-hat to Art Deco design, as well as settling into the aesthetic of surrounding houses in the suburb. Annie describes this generous rounded space as feeling like being on the ‘bridge of a boat’ when standing at the kitchen bench.
The living room operates almost as a theatre-in-the-round, providing the owners with a view across ‘270 degrees, that is really beautiful whatever the weather.’ Annie describes the design as both private, and connected to the local community – including an outlook over the park where acrobats, school sports, colourful wedding and Wuthering Heights re-enactments (!!!) are all performed.
For all its wow-factor and those eye-catching curves, this home is, in fact, an understated and elegant response to an unusually shaped site. Combining two residences in one, the resulting building is both generous and practical, with the sort of enduring presence that has made it a local landmark, and we think, a future icon.