Thursday 19 Jul 2012


This project is located in Mosman on a north facing slope looking across Sydney's Middle Harbour to the Spit Bridge and Clontarf.

The site falls away dramatically from a broad and densely landscaped verge on the street frontage, with a high sandstone cliff forming the southern boundary. The house is nestled into this cliff, shielding it from the street, where it appears as a single storey, focusing attention on the magnificent view to the north. Entry is from the side street down a set of cascading travertine steps, skirting two mature trees before crossing a small bridge to the front door that opens to a grand stair descending the full height of the house and dividing it into two clearly differentiated volumes.

The southern volume contains the service spaces, bathrooms, laundry, dressing room and a small study, while the northern volume contains the living areas and bedrooms. From the front door you are able to look through the western, 3 storey glazed wall to a significant stand of trees on an adjacent nature reserve. The glass roofed stair has an ambiguous reading, neither inside nor out, it is only when one passes through a series of Oak framed portals that you are officially inside. The lowest level contains children's bedrooms and a games/TV room that opens to the swimming pool terrace. An undercroft below this level contains the pool equipment and plant room.

The middle level contains the main living areas, garage and a large north facing outdoor room opening off the kitchen and dining room. The indoor and outdoor spaces on this level are given equal status, are the same size and are planned as two interlocking ‘Ls'. A continuous wall of Oak joinery runs along the southern edge of this space, containing fireplace, TV and book-shelving in the living area, general storage and small bar in the central dining area and kitchen storage and cooking alcove at the western end. A kitchen bench at right angles to this wall terminates this space, wrapping around a Corian clad island bench. The upper level is given over to the main bedroom suite, home office, study and main entry. A stainless steel bridge across the stair void leads from the main bedroom to a dressing room and ensuite bathroom. All bathrooms at the western end of the southern volume are screened by horizontal aluminium louvers for privacy and sun control, which open to reveal views of the adjacent nature reserve.

The house is constructed of reinforced concrete slab floors and cement rendered concrete block walls, providing significant thermal mass. The floors contain in-slab heating, while all spaces are naturally cross ventilated. There is an array of solar panels on the flat roof, providing both hot water and electricity. All rain water is collected in storage tanks in the undercroft for garden irrigation, toilet flushing and topping up the swimming pool. Summer sun is screened by the large overhanging roof and balcony slabs, with western sun screened by aluminium louvres. The simplicity of the external cement rendered form is enriched with an overlay of light bronze anodised aluminium windows, sliding doors and external sun control louvres, while the interior is defined by the Oak joinery and Travertine floors. The northern elevation is composed of a series of stepped cantilevered roofs and balconies, following the natural fall of the site towards the west. The roofs are covered in stone ballast, providing additional insulation and providing an outlook from the houses across the street that appears as a rocky foreshore, with the harbour beyond.

Designers: Ian Moore Architects

Photos: Daniel Mayne 

Ian Moore Architects

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