• East facade and terrace of the Blau pavilion (Max Dupain)

8 Ciprian Street, Mosman, NSW, 1959–62

Extensions were required to a Victorian house on a steep slope overlooking Chinamans Beach at Mosman, but the available land was on higher ground beside the residence. For this reason, Snelling renovated the old house to incorporate four bedroom suites and designed a separate modern pavilion for living, dining and entertaining. These two buildings were linked by a covered way along the north site boundary, and by an inclinator that was installed to arrive at the south end of the shared lawn, to avoid 200 steps downhill from the street.

Snelling’s modern pavilion was a one-storey, split-level, flat-roofed, horizontal box, externally influenced by mid-century California interpretations of the international style. Its east (water-facing) facade incorporated two banks of sliding glass doors leading from the living and dining areas, on different levels, to separate sandstone-paved verandahs sharing the sloping lawn. Along horizontal windows above the sliding doors, he installed panels of aluminium louvres.

The interior was furnished in a comfortable, organic style, with timber panelling and cabinetry, and wall-to-wall carpet. From the front door and a small entrance lobby in the southwest corner of the plan, occupants might access a small lavatory and bathroom or take several wide steps down to the rectangular living area. Along the western wall of this room, a wall-hung maple cabinet incorporated hi-fi equipment, a television, concealed up and down-lighting, and bookshelves.

Furnishings included an upholstered lounge suite, Danish-style teak pieces, and avocado-coloured carpet. A double-sided sandstone fireplace (which owner Patricia Blau said was not effective at heating the house) mediated a change of level several steps down from the living area to the dining zone and kitchen. This small, U-shaped, redwood-and-stainless-steel kitchen included an open bar to the dining area, fitted (like Gordon Drake’s houses) with a trio of sliding shoji screens that would stack into the cavity of a timber panel). This system allowed the adjacent dining room to seem formal and intimate or open and informal.

On the south side of the kitchen, a concertina vinyl screen screened a broom cupboard, and a passage led to a storage room. In the 1960s, another storey was added to this pavilion by architect Kevin Rice, with a new staircase leading to upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms.


—Architecture and Arts. 1965. ‘House at Mosman’, October, pp. 24–25.

—Blau, Patricia. Personal communications and site visit, ca. April and 5 May 2002.

—Hutchinson, Frances. 1963. ‘They live in two worlds … sleeping quarters – a turn of the century cottage; living quarters – a flat-roofed streamlined house’, Australian House and Garden, January, pp. 20–21, 66.

—Pemberton, Gary J. 1984. Douglas B. Snelling: A Monograph of His Works (B. Arch dissertation). Sydney: New South Wales Institute of Technology.

—Sydney Morning Herald, The. 1963. ‘Expanding for needs of growing family’, 3 May, p. 14.

—Trevillion, James. 1995. The Adventures of Douglas B. Snelling (B. Arch dissertation). Sydney: University of Technology, Sydney.