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A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

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Sally McGarry grew up in the Fenner House – a significant 1950s house designed by Robin Boyd in Canberra’s Red Hill – that inspired her own family home, Las Palmas. 

Designed by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects, the Byron Bay hinterland property is an entirely new build that captures the mid-century style of Boyd’s original, while responding to its very different site.

The property is home to Sally, her husband Matt, and three boys, and is also available to rent part-time as accommodation.

14th October, 2021

Las Palmas is a home and part-time accomodation venue in Myocum, NSW. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

The design is inspired by Robin Boyd’s Fenner House where owner Sally McGarry grew up. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

A pared back palette of natural stone and timber materials, contrast with stark white walls and raw concrete. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

This timeless material palette emerged in early concept stages and was refined throughout the design process.

Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

The stone fireplace is the anchoring point between roof and floor, adding texture and dividing the open-plan space. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Las Palmas’ architecture is genuinely inspired by the two-wing floor plan of the Fenner House, comprising two wings (one for sleeping and one for communal spaces).  Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Kitchen joinery by Invision Shopfitting & Kitchens. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Spaces are equally casual and luxurious. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

The home is the perfectly integrated into its Byron Bay Hinterland landscape. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

A bath with a view! Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Bedroom views of rolling hills. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Bathrooms are timeless, with generous proportions. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

The home is practical for a young family to live in, as well as serving as accomodation. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Expanding the overall space is a large terrace to the west, followed by the pool. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

A protected courtyard to the east allows occupants to shape their experience to suit the prevailing weather conditions. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

There’s a feeling of intrigue when approaching Las Palmas. ‘You feel a sense that there is something incredible awaiting you, and as you edge closer you glimpse the site through the living zone and the house itself reveals the site to you,’ says Kirrili Zimmer, co-founder of DUO Architects. Photo – Tom Ferguson. Styling – Duo Architects and Sally McGarry

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 14th October 2021

Las Palmas is an equally casual and luxurious home inspired by Robin Boyd’s Fenner House where owner Sally McGarry grew up. A significant example of 20th century Australian architecture, the house’s post-war regional style had a lasting impact on Sally, whose family still reside within the 1950s Canberra home. 

DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects were tasked with designing Sally’s new family home in a similar mid-century style. At the same time, the home needed to be integrated into the Byron Bay hinterland landscape, practical for a young family to live in, and able to operate part-time as a luxury accommodation venue.

Las Palmas’ architecture is genuinely inspired by the two-wing floor plan of the Fenner House. These two wings (one for sleeping and one for communal spaces) lie long and low in the landscape – their unbroken horizontal lines emphasising the undulating hinterland hills that surround them. 

Expanding the overall space is a large terrace to the west, and a protected courtyard to the east. ‘The generous, almost civic entertaining zones draw focus to the infinity pool and the hinterland views,’ says Kirrili Zimmer, co-founder of DUO Architects.

Inside, concrete floors mirror the floating roof and thermally absorb the sun’s warmth. A central stone fireplace adds valuable texture, complemented by stark white walls (Dulux Natural White) and blackbutt joinery throughout. 

While aesthetically inspired by the Fenner House, this is a site-specific project responding to its location and outlook. ‘Long after the building has now been created, the landscape still remains the focus point of the place,’ says Teneil Van Dyck,  co-founder of DUO Architects. ‘The building is both a proud modernist statement but also humble in its totality, playing servant to the breathtaking scenery of the site.’

Book Las Palmas for accommodation or photo shoot venue hire here

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net