Due to COVID-19 the 2021 Mosman Design Awards have been postponed until 2023

MDA19 Winners

The Mosman Design Awards presentation evening once again was a big hit with the nominating architects, owners and judges that attended the event on 29 April 2019 at the Mosman Art Gallery.

The below properties were awarded on the evening. The results, and judges’ citations, are:


2019 Overall Winner

Almora House by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects

On a remarkable site located at the base of a rock escarpment, this house instantly evokes an enduring quality. Set sensitively within an established garden with strategically located courtyards skilfully integrated into the layout of the living spaces.

From the outside, the house has a mild rational appearance of glass and concrete, with a hint of the sculptural roof form. This evokes a curiosity of what is to come on entering the house. Upon entering, the poetics of the splendid undulating ceiling is revealed which is instantly reminiscent of the Jorn Utzon ceiling in the Bagsvaerd Church in Copenhagen.

Inside, the captivating nature of the undulating ceiling has a detached appearance and hovers freely over the entire floor, establishing the exquisite nature of calmness and beauty to the interior; bestowing the occupants and visitors with a sense of wonder and joy. An interior with an ethereal quality of abundant natural light together with the ceilings’ ever-changing curvatures emanate varying levels of soft light with drawn-out lineal gradations created by the patterned slated timber formwork. This leaves one with an indelible memory of the visit. A true gauge of great works.

The culmination of the restrained materiality throughout the house of timber, concrete and glass, the design rigour applied to achieve visual simplicity to the series of timber forms sitting within the monolithic concrete shell, the abundant natural light illuminating the concrete walls and the white undulating ceiling, where the eye is enticed to follow the sinuous line of the wall and ceiling junctions, all come together as a symphony of visual delight.

This house is where the senses are heightened to a loftier level and is a testimony to the design calibre of the architects. When the convergence of the trinity, owner, architect and builder, collaborate successfully, this results in a house that sets a new benchmark for residential architecture from any criterion one wishes to use – aesthetics, functionality, practicality, and sustainability.


2019 Winner New Dwelling

Balmoral House by CHROFI

The Balmoral House is located on a site that presented many difficulties for its architects. The lot is wedged shaped, below street level and has challenging topography with north to the side boundary. Existing dwellings on both sides contain the lot and its views, challenging a traditional dwelling/garden solution due to the restricted land area remaining after subdivision.

The architects have risen to the challenge and created a peaceful and delightful dwelling that nestles into the site and the hill side, engaging the northerly aspect through a central courtyard space that offers light, air and an intimate landscaped outlook to all rooms as well as the circulation spine of the house.

The design also captures the Middle Harbour views available below the tree canopies by locating the living areas on the ground level. This enables the living areas to link with the courtyard space to provide a true indoor outdoor flow ideal for entertaining, family time and secure play areas for young children.

The house provides a range of open space opportunities and views for the upper bedroom level as well, using the roof top of the lower level for roof gardens and tranquil contemplation spaces. The side entry location also enables engagement with the landscape qualities of the courtyard and deep viewing opportunities as part of the entry sequence from the street.

The use of the L shaped ground level and simple linear box form of the upper level cocoons the central landscape courtyard space and shares it will all aspects of the living domain of the house. The house forms a series of stacked and interconnected simply expressed volumes that are linked by the simple entry sequence and stairs which are hung from the structure above so they hover over the courtyard, interacting with it through its full height glazed wall.

The design maximises the opportunities for outlook, light and views and through its clever disposition and transparency of space makes the lot and dwelling feel much larger with generous landscape areas.

The expression of the dwelling is that of simple minimalism and it creates a sense of peace and calm in a densely occupied setting. The use of a warm and neutral colour palette shows off the simplicity of the design with the use of off-form concrete, neutral bricks and blackbutt timber.

The outcome is a delightfully simple yet exciting compact home bathed in sunlight and landscape, modest in its expression yet masterful its delivery.


2019 Winner Alterations and Additions

Clanalpine House by McNally Architects

Clanalpine House is a delightful Federation style property that embodies much of what is typical and attractive in Mosman’s residential character.

The new rear addition is a clever reorienting of its aspect away from the original dwelling and Clanalpine Street, creating the sense of a new dwelling from the side boundary. The deliberate axial shift from the central alignment of the original site unlocks greater vistas and affords privacy to the spacious courtyard.

Internally the main living spaces feel fantastic offering an abundance of natural light and ventilation at every opportunity by utilising generous windows and clerestories. The interior detailing is well executed with the contemporary feel of the new addition balanced with the timeless character of the original sandstone bricks.

The spacious courtyard offers a seamless connection from the pool, cabana and garden to the internal living spaces, with all components from colouring, to materiality, to landscaping sensitively complimenting the original building. The blending of sandstone to zinc cladding is bold and tasteful.

Clanalpine House demonstrates a high level of design skill and results in an outstanding residential design that meets the contemporary requirements of the owner. Although the experience of the new addition feels outstandingly contemporary, nothing in its execution takes away from the traditional feel of the original federation dwelling.


2019 Highly Commended

Tamaras House by Marston Architects

The alteration and addition to this modest Victorian era home has a confident, modern and mannered intervention. This project adopts what has become a desirable way for families to consider the many wonderful architectural possibilities when confronted with the opportunity to up-cycle original period homes to the modern era.

When skilled architects are commissioned for these modest alterations and additions, great results can be achieved as demonstrated here. Celebrating the old with sensitive and respectful modern additions can deliver real and immensely inspirational works.

Here the two halves of the home each sensitively address opposing surroundings; the street fronting original portion respectfully maintains the streetscape with no hint of the rear modern addition. The rear addition makes the most of opening up to the back private garden. On entering the original cottage and through to the rear addition, the transition is handled simply and subtly. Occasional pockets of natural light from above draw you through to the new addition.

The architect’s deliberate monochromatic and restrained palette has created a tranquil interior bathed in natural light. This combines to make the modest home a delight to occupy, evoking a sense comfort and well being. The verdant rear garden animates and invigorates the interior by its proximity and effortless transition from inside to outside.

Strategically angled rear walls on the upper level respond easily to the conditions of the site. The zig-zag rear profile effectively allows sun access to the southern neighbour. While the full height vertical metal operable louvres maintain sun and view control for the occupants within the new build, and privacy from the rear neighbour.

The angled walls along with the indispensable brave louvres are the outstanding elements that establish the defining character of the addition. The two elements furthermore inject a dual function. The neighbours gain from the elegant form and the bold graphics of the louvers, avoiding a bland intervention. The occupants enjoy the varying qualities of light created by the louvers enriching the interiors.

An exemplary project for the subtle way of dovetailing the new to the old, and the rear treatment provides a dignified build to the adjoining neighbours and is the real success of this home.

2019 People’s Choice Award

Clanalpine House by McNally Architects

The People’s Choice is awarded to the property that receives the highest number of votes during the voting period.