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Carl Russo

Getting to Know: Carlo Russo of Crush Architecture

Architect Carlo Russo brings a unique perspective to projects in the inner west, having worked across parts of Europe steeped in history. He loves the challenge of respecting the heritage elements of a home while also innovating and working with the natural elements of the local environment.  Find out how he incorporated a pool into a small terrace house in Summer Hill below.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am the architect and founder of Crush Architecture in Petersham, dad of a little girl, husband of a wonderful woman, and collector of contemporary and mid-century design furniture.

I was travelling and working in Europe for many years before moving to Sydney six years ago.  I instantly fell in love with the inner west and have stayed here ever since.

What path led to you becoming an architect?

When I was a child, I lived in a small, dark apartment in my hometown with my parents. I was six when my parents decided to buy land near the sea and build their dream home, with the help of an aspiring young architect.

Even though I was young, I was completely mesmerised by the tactility of the materials, the natural lighting, the quality of the double height and the strong connection with the surrounding landscape.

My parents instilled in me a love and appreciation of well-designed spaces, and it naturally led me into architecture in an attempt to create spaces that bring people joy and meaning.

 You worked in Italy, France and The Netherlands before moving to Sydney. Is there anything you especially enjoy about architecture projects here?

I enjoy being challenged when there are specific boundaries and rules to my projects.

Whilst in Europe, my projects were located in areas with invaluable architectural and urban value, which set a high expectation on how the architecture should connect and enhance the existing historical fabric. There was also a wider range of materials and typology that we use, and generally more to consider when building in major European cities.

In Australia, the enjoyable part is working with nature and integrating architecture with the environment, while being mindful of not overbuilding in areas which are becoming more dense.  It’s refreshing and well aligned with my sustainability approach to design architecture.

Have you worked on any interesting projects in the inner west recently?

Most of my projects are in the inner west, all different in typology, stage, budget and goals. One of the most stand out projects recently completed was commissioned by a professional swimmer in Summer Hill for a terrace house on a tiny and narrow block of land, where I designed a 18-metre swimming pool under the new suspended extension at the rear.

Another exciting project I am currently working on is in Stanmore for a young, growing family. They are looking for a flexible, adaptable and bright space for their current and future needs. The space I designed for this lovely family has a “broken plan”, with distinct areas using big partitions, change of level and green spaces that intertwine into the internal living space. The result is a fluid, dynamic, bright and adaptable space.

A lot of homes in the inner west contain heritage elements, as well as size constraints. How do you balance these challenges with the desire to innovate and modernise?

I love working on heritage items and heritage areas, that’s my specialty. To be honest, every heritage element is different and need a different strategy.  People often feel that modern and heritage elements are exclusive of each other, but they’re not.

Heritage elements are beautiful and timeless, and it’s not about preserving a certain era, it’s about craftsmanship, uniqueness and delicacy that’s not easily replicable. It’s important we do not just wipe out the history, but to preserve and give it meaning, while adding our story into it.

You want to add in elements that are considered modern today, but well admired and timeless by the next generation.  My designs reflect a strong dialogue between the past, present and future, with extensive research of the original building and surrounds, and integrating them into the needs and emotions of my clients.

Do you have any favourite places to visit in the inner west? 

I spend a lot of time in Petersham Park with my toddler, and go to the Fanny Durack pool there in the summer.  In the weekends, my wife loves a visit to Café d’Yvoire for croissants in Balmain.  Our local pub that is child friendly is the Public House in Petersham, and on nights where we want pizzas, we visit Gigi Pizzeria (excellent vegan place!) in Newtown.

Carlo Russo is the founder of Crush Architecture. To find out more about his work visit:

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