Scotland Island House

2019 Guringai Country / Scotland Island, NSW

2019 Smeg Tour 2020 competition – Shortlist

Scotland Island is located at the southern end of the Pittwater estuary, about an hour north of Sydney. It lies within the lands of the Guringai people, the original inhabitants of the area. Middens, containing remnants of shells and fish gathered and cooked by Guringai, have been found on the northern and western parts of the Island and there are numerous rock engravings carved by the Guringai people on the surrounding hills. Accessed only by boat, and without sealed roads, the island is now a renowned hub for Sydney artists and musicians.

The Scotland Island House is set on a steep, densely wooded, north-westerly facing site, overlooking Pittwater and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The design capitalises on the stunning water and bush views whilst being sensitive to the ecology and community of the island. Once part of a large estate on the island, the site has never before been built on. Aside from numerous endemic plants, the land carried eighteen protected spotted gum trees. With careful planning, we managed to retain sixteen of these important trees.

A series of stepping volumes informed by the steep topography, and the need to stay within mandated height-lines, gives each room a particular view, and minimises impact on trees and neighbouring view lines. Together with the stepped form, charred timber cladding softens the visual impact of the building when seen from the water and surrounding properties.

Sam and his team embraced the challenges of designing for an off-shore and ecologically-sensitive site. They capably navigated council regulations and engaged with the local community before producing plans for two beautiful homes.

– private client



Project Team

Sam Crawford, Benjamin Chan, Ken Warr


RW Stidwill Constructions


Arborist – Birds Tree Consultancy
Bushfire – Sydney Bushfire Consultants
Civil, Geotech, Hydraulic Engineer – Martens & Associates
Ecologist – GIS Environmental Consultants
Landscape Architect – Spirit Level Designs
Structural engineer – Cantilever Consultant Engineers


Northern Beaches Council


Simon Whitbread
Brett Boardman