Successfully melding traditional Bermudian architecture on the exterior with a modern, contemporary living space on the interior is a trademark of sorts for architect David Benevides. Fairholme, which sits high on a hill in Paget, is his latest and greatest example of this on a grand scale. 



Taking two and a half years from design to completion, Fairholme is a substantial retirement home for a businessman who has recently retired to the island after many years living in Singapore. With his strong views and stylistic requirements, he “wanted a house that was based on the Bermudian vernacular traditions on the exterior with an Asian contemporary feel on the inside,” according to Benevides.

Adding to the challenge of creating Fairholme was the fact that the owner was still living in Singapore during the design and construction of the house. “He commuted to Bermuda every three to six months, but mainly relied on e-mails,” said the architect. “Maxwell Tomlinson, the lead architectural technologist on the project, did an excellent job communicating long distance with the owner, articulating the issues and resolving ongoing construction issues.”



That communication certainly paid off as the design team at Benevides managed to translate all of the client’s wish-list items into a design that worked for both the location and the owner. Unusual for Bermuda, a square floor plan surrounds an inner courtyard, allowing massive amounts of natural light to flood through the entire house. With landscaped gardens and a generous covered porch for lounging and enjoying them, the courtyard is a central part of the overall design. “The owner wanted a house filled with light and views to the landscaped gardens, so the concept of the courtyard was the starting point,” said Benevides.

The next item high on the owner’s wish list was a way to display his impressive art collection, with many significant pieces from the Far East. Benevides and his team designed an art-gallery circulation system around the core of the house, with white walls and white porcelain tile from Surface Trends further accenting the art. The rooms—including two guest bedrooms, kitchen and dining area, master suite, gym, living area, office, powder room for guests and a butler’s suite—were then organized to flow around the outside.



“Construction of this substantial residential project was undertaken by the local firm of JMS Contractors who succeeded in meeting the technically challenging build requirements and completed the project on time, within budget and to the entire satisfaction of the owner,” said Benevides.

Top-of-the-line, high-end fixtures and furnishings were used throughout the project. The electrical lighting plates are from Lutron New Architectural, the plumbing fixtures are all Dornbracht, the kitchen cabinets are Poggenpohl and the appliances throughout the house are Gaggenau.



Even the air-conditioning system, designed by Simon Tully of Air Pro, is impressive. “With Fairholme, we carried out a design-build format, asking what the client preferred to see and feel and also what the landscaping was on the outside of the house, so we could figure out where we could put outdoor units so that the outside wouldn’t be cluttered with them,” said Tully. “There was three-phase power supplied to the house, so we installed two Toshiba SMMS three-phase outdoor units on the boundary of the property, which provide exceptional energy efficiency, and concealed ducted air handlers with linear grilles throughout. Each room was created as a zone so the client could shut off what he wasn’t using, saving more energy as a result.”

Also adding to the energy efficiency of the house are the hot-water solar panels, which are completely disguised on the roof.



On the exterior, even the driveway, with concrete pavers and limestone walls leading to the top of the hill, is impressive. The main façade, featuring three scalloped gabled edges along the ridge of the property, was designed to give the house a pleasant Bermudian feel. On the northern side of the property, a modern, rectangular pool with a knife-edge slot around the perimeter reflects the contemporary nature of the interior design, while a gabled-roof pool house mimics the traditional Bermudian architecture on the front façade.

Benevides says his personal-favourite design element is the “garden courtyard sitting area with its Sunbrella fabric exterior curtains. [It is] a beautiful exterior room with the fountain splashing in the background.”

Our judges agreed: “I loved the design of the house around the courtyard,” one judge stated, while another commented on how the unusual project really “speaks to the international flavour and is so different from the typical Bermudian motif.”







General Contractor–JMS General Contractors; Mechanical Contractor–Air Pro; Electrical Contractor–Heaven Electrical; Plumbing Contractor–Island Engineering Ltd.; Engineer–Periera Engineering Ltd.; Landscape Design–Landscape and Gardens; Flooring–Surface Trends; Millwork–Convoy Solutions; Audio Visual–M+M International; B+O Equipment–Gateway Systems Ltd; Appliances–Joshua Bate Trading; Windows/Doors–PVC Doors and Windows; Lighting–ESC; Security–Bermuda Central Station; Shipping Company–Bermuda Forwarders; Pool Construction–Pool Care of Bermuda; Appliance Installation–Appliance Installation & Repair Service; Hardware–Rick Meens.