The Mosaic apartments in Sydney, designed by Tony Owen Partners, won the World Architecture News (WAN) Awards for Best Façade in the World and Best Use of Colour in the World. The project also recently won the World Architecture Community Award for best apartment building.

Located in a historic part of Sussex Street in Sydney CBD, Mosaic stands out for its intriguing facade, which has been created using parametric modelling to maximise the environmental performance of the building. The software calculates the optimal angle of the sun to maximise solar amenity through windows, with the resulting window mosaic taking on a colourful sculptural form.

Architect Tony Owen’s design approach is transforming suburban Sydney through multi-residential towers that are stunningly beautiful with curved facades, surprising patterns, protruding shapes and unexpected angles. By reimagining conventionally designed box-like building forms, Owen aims to inject new life to the suburban built environment.

“In Melbourne, buyers have many and varied great designs to choose from,” Owen says. “For too long, Sydney buyers did not even know they had a ‘choice’ besides the typical boxes that bring us no joy. We knew our mission was to show buyers there was a better design.”

Mosaic apartments

Owen relies on technology to achieve his design intent. Using parametric modelling software, he transforms data into three-dimensional shapes ready for prefabrication, allowing him to create iconic designs that can now be fabricated and built for the same price as traditional designs. While the designs are visually appealing, they are also based on environmental principles that enhance building performance and energy efficiency to achieve sustainability goals.

“As architects, we have to be creative and offer buyers designs they’ve never seen before, while addressing challenges of sustainability and the increasing costs of construction,” Owen explains. “Parametric modelling enables me and my team to identify precisely where those efficiencies can be found.”

Though Owen’s designs stand out for their intriguing shapes and unusual patterns, he explains that his architecture stems from a far deeper desire.

“We never set out to create a shape per se; first and foremost, we embark on a journey to solve a problem and the shape evolves as a result of that exploration.”

Multi-residential design in post-COVID-19 times

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been widespread, and particularly so in building design. Owen and his team understand the evolving buyer requirements when designing multi-residential apartments. For instance, all apartments will necessarily have the home office/study feature. Another idea, which is based on the widely adopted work-from-home practice following the pandemic, is for apartments to have a business centre to house large office items such as photocopiers and/or conference rooms.

“As we see a shift away from shared workspaces in favour of home offices, it makes sense to provide residents with access to the types of facilities that were once solely located in more traditional office environments,” says Owen who also predicts a rise in recreational facilities such as communal dining areas and communal cinemas within apartment complexes.

The belief that architecture has the power to uplift individuals, cities and communities underpins Owen’s determination to ensure his designs evolve with the changes brought about by the current pandemic.

“Design can be transformative,” he explains. “When architecture prioritises the human experience and provokes interaction with nature, we feel invigorated and enlivened.”