Mosman House: A serene and spectacular waterfront home

By TKD Architects

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On a steep slope in Mosman, on Sydney's Lower North Shore, TKD Architects were asked not just to design a six-bedroom family home that took advantage of the views, but also to take charge of the interior architecture and styling – from the furniture and flooring right down to the artwork, bedding and even the cutlery. All their Shanghai-based clients needed to do was unlock the door and walk into their completely finished home.

“It's extremely rare that we are commissioned to take care of the architecture, interior design, and what we would call decor,” says TKD Architects principal John Rose. “To be able to be in control of the overall design of the building form, the overall aesthetic and materials, and then furnish it in a manner that ties it all together was a real privilege.”

The homeowners asked TKD Architects to design them a home that opened to the water views better than the existing house, which was knocked down to make way for a light-filled home fit for a multi-generational family.

Entering into the view

A footbridge, guided by timber portals, leads from the street past the garage to the home’s upper level, which houses the study and spacious master bedroom, two walk-in wardrobes, and a light-filled, luxurious ensuite. The main bedroom is oriented towards the water views and opens to a private deck. Two additional bedrooms, along with a living room and bathroom, sit above the garage, giving the family’s two children their own haven within the home.

The ground-floor level is designed as a tranquil space for the family to gather. The formal dining room is elevated a step above the living, casual dining and kitchen area, providing an unimpeded view out over the water.

“If it were all on one level, then you're looking through one space to another space, and not really able to appreciate the view in the same manner,” John explains.

Kitchen solutions

A doorway from the kitchen leads to the butler’s pantry, laundry and drying court, hiding the more functional elements of family living from view. The kitchen also connects seamlessly to an outdoor barbecue area and deck, the benchtop continuing from inside to out.

Initially the homeowners wanted two kitchens, cautious about the smoke and odours created by the hot-wok cooking they enjoyed. They soon realised it made more sense to combine two kitchens into one, however. “What that meant from our point of view was that we needed to make sure it was functional and durable at the same time,” says TKD interior design principal Mel Mackenzie.

Like the rest of the house, the kitchen has a restrained palette. White cabinetry and Carrara marble pair together beautifully, while a black benchtop and black window frames add a contemporary touch and draw the eye out to the views.

Adding layers

Although the homeowners really wanted light, bright, white interiors, layering texture and adding natural materials inspired by the surrounding trees and rockface has given the home its serene and sophisticated feel.

Large skylights, full-height glazing and white walls diffuse the northerly light through the multi-level home and TKD opted for dark timber floors to ground the space.

“Even though it seems like dark timber floors would make a space heavy, it actually reflects light and reduces glare,” Mel explains.

The team had to practice restraint with the lighting too. Instead of the standard trio of pendant lights suspended over the island bench, downlights were chosen to avoid interrupting the view, and so the Gubi pendant handing over the adjacent dining setting could take pride of place.

“The interior aesthetic is simple; it's minimal. It's textural, but restrained and we've used repetitive elements to really tie all the levels and all the interior back to the one scheme,” Mel says. “The layering of an understated palette primarily of smoked oak, pale oak and Carrara marble was added consistently to create a cohesive, uncomplicated finish.”

Linking the levels

Fluted timber is an important textural element throughout the home, and serves to unite the different levels of the home.

The lower level has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with a cellar, family room and change room with shower and separate toilet – with its own door and walkway leading to the deck and infinity pool. Under the pool is one more level, this one housing the gym.

TKD practice director Lachlan Rowe says the home was designed for the living and sleeping spaces to feel connected, with each space having its own access to light and views. “There's no space in this house that’s sort of forgotten, which could easily happen with a one-sided view,” Lachlan says. “That was one of the problems with the previous house; a couple of rooms had a good view but everything else was just forgotten about.”

Australian lifestyle

Mosman House steps down the steep slope around a small courtyard on the southern side, bringing light into the dining area and allowing additional framed views into the outdoors. “Bringing the landscape, light and ventilation into that area of the house means it doesn't feel one sided; it feels like you're connected on all sides.”

The original Federation house had an overgrown European-style garden, but this too was transformed.

“All of the landscaping from the house to the river is now all Australian natives,” says John. “The whole idea is that when you go out of the house and down to the water, you're part of the Australian landscape.”

An inclinator makes the journey from the pool and level entertaining lawn down to the boathouse easier, if you’d prefer not to take the stairs. The boathouse can open up to the water and jetty via concertina doors, creating both a waterside sanctuary and easy access for watercraft.

“This house is a celebration of the Australian lifestyle, of the way we can be connected to the outdoors,” John says. “This is something that doesn't happen all around the world; here we want to open our windows and doors and live with the light and breeze and I think that’s part of the essence of how this house comes together.”

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Photography: Tom Ferguson

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Mosman House II

About the
Professional

TKD Architects is a multi-disciplinary practice that brings together the skills of contemporary architecture, adaptive reuse, interior design, urban design and strategic planning.

TKD Architects is a studio of over 60 people including architects, interior designers and heritage specialists.

The practice is led by 4 Principals with Alex Kibble as Managing Director. The day to day management of the practice is undertaken by the Principals and Practice Directors, ensuring projects achieve design, quality and financial targets and exceed client expectations.

Recognising the importance of strong leadership within the project teams, the practice has 7 Associate Directors and 5 Associates, drawn from across the spectrum of the skills within the office, representing the diversity of technical, design and management skills within the practice.

Capability
We provide a comprehensive range of architectural services, from project inception to completion. We have experience in projects with a wide range of construction values – both large and small. We balance the resource needs of all projects and have the capability to service complex projects with the appropriate resources.

Sustainability
TKD has a long and award-winning track record in delivering environmentally and ecologically sustainable outcomes and we approach every project with the aim of maximising environmental and ecological sustainability. We also understand that the “greenest” building may be one that already exists, and has proven experience in breathing new life into existing buildings in innovative ways to ensure their functionality, appeal and use are maximised

In July 2019, TKD Architects became a founding signatory of Architects Declare, Australia. We acknowledge the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time and that globally, buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats. TKD Architects will promote and support the Architects Declare agenda through our projects and office practices.

Studio
TKD Architects delivers high-quality contemporary design across a wide range of project sectors.

We believe in architecture that has a respect for history and a clarity of vision for the future.

Our Surry Hills office reflects the vision and profile of an evolving practice while providing a real sense of belonging and creativity for the whole TKD team. The light-filled converted warehouse has open, collaborative spaces as well as smaller, team meeting spaces. The aspirational single level workspace allows views throughout the space and touches of colour give it a warm, vibrant ambience.

NSW Nominated Architects | Robert Denton  5782 | Alex Kibble 6015