The street presentation of the Mosman House is quiet and humble while the interior spaces reveal increasingly as one progresses through the house towards the harbour reserve, from reduced private spaces to spatially complex family areas.
The house is conceived as two pavilions arranged on each side of a central courtyard. The front pavilion contains bedrooms and amenities. The rear pavilion, opening to the nature, contains a variety of living spaces and a large study.
The kitchen and dining are on the top floor, though below the entry level, due to the steep fall of the site now sitting high, offering fantastic views. Below this the large living room, empowered by the topography to a dramatic double height space, reaching to the reserve via a large deck, sunken conversation pit and waterfall edge pool.
The pavilion concept ensures that the house sits on the site in a suitable scale. Swimming pool, conversation pit and decks off the living spaces connect the house to the harbour reserve. The house follows the steep fall of the long site, opening up in many different ways to the landscape while being solid and windowless to the sides ensures privacy where neighbours are close.
The connectivity between the spaces on each side of the courtyard is important, as is the ability for all spaces to gain excellent access to light and views of one sort or another.
The courtyard is a source of ventilation and cooling for the home and performs well. It is also ornamental insofar that is has a garden at the base, in effect another outdoor room that is cool in summer. The side glazed wall to the building has a powerful sculptural copper screen element from top to bottom.
The circulation spaces of the home are consolidated along the eastern boundary and are generous in proportion. These areas also benefit from the light from the courtyard and the interior side of the aforementioned copper screen.
The architecture is carefully sculpted to take best advantage of light and views, especially with side and corner windows which splay and deconstruct to frame landscape elements and add a light quality to the otherwise solid structure.
The secondary living area on the bottom level of the rear pavilion has a lofty grandeur which is offset by the use of warm interior finishes, details and substantial exterior screening elements. Looking back at the home from the garden the exterior form appears to have a small and carefully crafted scale, sitting comfortably in its landscape and among its neighbours despite the immensity of the interior experience.
Sustainability has not been taken lightly. 10 x 1.0 kw batteries are powered by 27 solar panels. In addition to the nowadays mandatory sustainability measures such as rainwater tank, high level insulation, low energy lighting etc the house has been, from its initial concept design, conceived to minimise energy use.
The grouping of rooms around the courtyard plays an important role by providing significant exposure to natural light and air flow to all living rooms, minimising the need for use of airconditioning and artificial lighting. The provided cross ventilation will make the use of air-conditioning unnecessary for all but a few days in the year. The high-mass solid construction in conjunction with the ubiquitous planting contributes to a natural control of the micro-climate.
The green roof is not only pleasant to look onto but also efficiently insulates the roof while at the same time greatly increasing the landscaped area. The glazing, indispensable in order to connect the house visually to its magnificent setting, has been restricted to the North and South facades and relies on the latest low-e and double glazing technology.
The articulation of the facades optimises natural shading in summer while maximising solar gain in winter. Heating is provided by way of an energy efficient low-heat under floor gas hydronic system, providing gentle background heat throughout the living areas.
Overall, this home is an ambitious and complex project yet delicate and graceful. It is an exciting piece of architecture yet at the same time and most importantly feels like a home for a family.