Property of the week: architect Jean Fombertaux’s own Modernist home in Sydney

An experimental slice of midcentury architecture

Among the midcentury dwellings of Sydney’s North Shore sits the home of Jean Fombertaux – a cluster of living spaces suspended in the air.

The French-Australian architect (principal of Modernist practice HP Oser Fombertaux & Associates) worked mostly around Sydney, designing the William Bland Centre and Toohey’s Administration Building among others. He built the experimental Fombertaux House for his family in 1964, and it’s one of the earliest expressed steel frame houses in Australia, perching on stilts at the edge of a sandstone ledge.

Fombertaux died in 1976, and his son André – a master cabinetmaker – took on the task of maintaining the midcentury property, which is on the market via Modern House Estate Agents (price on application) for the first time ever.

Its bold and boxy exterior – made from pre-cast concrete panels contrasted with large glass panels – was originally painted a stark white, but is now a soft purple hue that blends surprisingly well with the surrounding trees. This burst of colour is a contrasts to its Japanese-inspired interiors.

Fombertaux-House
Photography: Michael Nicholson

Fombertaux designed the three-level Sydney property so that its floors spiral around a central, light-filled stairwell, giving the illusion of them almost floating. The concrete floor slabs are offset by warm woods and extensive glass.

Fombertaux House
Photography: Michael Nicholson

Shared living spaces – including the sunken living room – fill the middle of the house, with three bedrooms secreted at the top of the dwelling. A home studio and guest bedroom fill the lowest floor.

Read next:
17 extraordinary architects’ homes you can visit
Take a Brutalist tour of Sydney

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