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Southern Highlands House by Benn + Penna

Tom Ferguson

Sydney-based studio Benn + Penna has recently completed the Southern Highlands House,  an addition to a rural retreat owned by a couple who like in Australia’s Barragorang Valley to escape from the city at the weekends. The new building completes the tripartite of freestanding pavilions designed by Beverley Garlick in 1993. This archipelago of rooms contain the functions of ‘sleeping’, ‘living’ and ‘reading’, and are loosely arranged at the base of a natural amphitheatre formed by the towering cliffs of Barragorang Valley.

The new pavilion is a play of the elastic geometries learnt from the existing buildings design. Its pill shaped plan gives the compact space a sense of looping endlessness, without compromising function. Clad entirely in non-combustible metal sheeting, the reading room is carefully resolved to protect against its bushfire prone surroundings, and nestles gently with its ever changing natural landscape.

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all images © Tom Ferguson