Set against the backdrop of the lush New South Wales countryside, Paloma House is ideally located on a hilltop in the Kangaroo Valley, with long views of the local national park. The clients, a Sydney-based couple looking for a second home, love gardening, horses and the great outdoors, and are big fans of Tadao Ando and minimalist architecture. Their search for the right creative mind to help them realize their dream led them to New Zealand studio Fearon Hay.
Fearon Hay first appeared on Wallpaper* 22 years ago when the then-nascent studio was featured in the 2001 Architects Directory. Since then, the Oakland- and (now also) Los Angeles-based firm, founded by Tim Hay and Jeff Fearon, has gained 1998, established himself as an expert on minimalism in the 21st century. Designing extraordinary homes in stunning landscapes is one of the practice’s key strengths and a large part of the duo’s shared portfolio and experience, something the owners of Paloma House have made the most of.
Paloma House: Origins and Inspiration
The flat, low linear volume of the new housing keeps it close to the ground. The pronounced roof façade and overhang add weight, emphasizing its connection to the ground, while subtly referencing the low profile of many houses of 20th century modernist architecture. The strong outline of the roof helps define the overall shape and boundaries of the house, while courtyards, steps and gardens create interesting enclaves. The project also includes a studio, guest house, swimming pool and stables.
Within the long perpendicular section of the main house are two spacious en-suite bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and dining area. Encased stainless steel, sandblasted concrete and glass plains form a measured material palette that is relatively austere but elegant throughout.
The interiors were created in collaboration with Italian designer Michela Coretti, with somewhat sparse and carefully designed furnishings allowing the greenery outside to take center stage. A separate wing connected to a simple waiting room leads to the library and study. This is one of the most interesting spaces in the house, which is lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Here, the clients’ art collection (which includes contemporary and historical works spread throughout the entire house) appears in alcoves and showcases, on the walls, and freestanding among the furniture.
Although the content of this room is enough to attract and dazzle you, the outdoor greenery remains strongly present, visible through smaller openings in strategic locations – one example of this is the long, narrow horizontal slit that reaches right up to eye level when sitting on the soft chairs. , the book is supposed to be close at hand. This is a distinctive feature of Fearon Hay. While this practice is prolific in the field of residential architecture, each of their homes draws on the natural context and individual setting each time they take on a new brief. This ensures that each design looks unique and tailored to its location.
In the case of Paloma House, its rural setting provided inspiration and the opportunity to explore something new, with the building’s pared-down architecture contrasting with the softness of the lush nature outside, supported by the property’s landscaping, and the work of Sydney-based horticulturist Miles. Baldwin. “The different locations we design around the world mean we always have a keen sensitivity to place. Being outsiders, we are fascinated by the landscapes our clients inhabit,” says Hay. This can also present some unexpected challenges. “Life “Australia’s wildlife is something we’ve never encountered before, including lots of snakes, along with kangaroos and wombats, visiting the house.”
The use of stainless steel and concrete means that the house will gradually become more immersed in its surroundings, and will age with the nature around it, as the materials age. At the same time, Fearon Hay’s seamless collaboration with landscape and interior designers means that this home feels well-rounded and truly connected to its setting, and the interiors and exteriors are inherently connected and form a cohesive part of the same story.