Studio MWA
PROJECT NAME:Rotopai Residence

CLIENT:Mr. & Mrs. Weatherstone

TYPE: New Farm Residence

SIZE: Floor area 415 m2, terraces app.250 m2, landscaped over 1500 m2

LOCATION: Haurangi - Martinborough

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Sylvester Clark – Wellington

AUTHOR: Davor Mikulcic

PROJECT TEAM: Michael Maddern, Davor Mikulcic

STATUS: Completed

New Weatherstone residence or Rotopai Residence how our client call project, is actually a contemporary new farm house build on historic site established over 180 years ago. Project is located on a remote, rural plot in South Wairarapa for one of the larger milk producers, on same place where old family home was located and for new project relocated on new site few kilometers away.

Weatherstone Family settled on the site in 1830 and is one of the oldest farming families in the area.

Approaching us to design their final dream home was a huge responsibility and challenge, but fascinating old site with established trees, some over 100 years old, remote position, fantastic opportunity for good orientation, relatively easy access and non standard brief really catch my attention. Working with the client to accommodate requirements for everyday life in future and in same time as big farm owner be able to run business from home, made project little bit more complex.

Cherry and Brian required a contemporary design with charm and spirit of HOME, but it had to reflect their way of life. Some of imperatives from brief included:

• Big extended family and lots of friends and business partners are often guests and requirements to make new farm residence as entertaining hub (often over 100 people entertain there).
• Guests have to have accommodation and privacy from rest of house.
• Office, to be able to run farm business, has to accommodate two work stations, filing cabinets – storage, small wine cellar and in same time have simple access to meeting room space, but be easy accessible and visually connected with family part of house.
• Master bedroom locates to catch first morning sun and view on rolling hills in proximity.
• Triple garage to accommodate two cars, special motorbike and few farm bikes, with space for lots of storage, some farms machines, filter room for cleaning after arriving from farm and prior entering house, toilet, etc.
• Separate laundry, in close proximity to garage and easy access outside.
• Create separate formal living, dining room to accommodate some old historic furniture and be able entertain inside – locate close to kitchen - family area and be able to combine it together when required, or separate it.
• Lots of deck – terraces, create easy access outside from most of rooms and create easy indoor outdoor flow totally accessible.
• Provide lots of space to exhibit all family photos from history and early settlers’ days – home gallery.
• They have collection of ceramic figurines and they would like to exhibit it and show to visitors.
• Incorporate into design something to give flair and unique appearance.
• Try to remain existing historic shed and fire wood storage with vegetable garden and most of old trees to maintain “spirit of site history”.
• Existing old house relocate on another farm and if possible use same site for new farm house.
• Incorporate into interior open fires.
• Roof has to be created to collect water and store into two big water tanks.
• Septic tank with influent field has to be accommodated too.
• Use house orientation to perform as passive solar collector (winter) and with big long eaves protect house from sun.

Answer on above requirements and others was atrium house, but with non standard shape. It answer all requirements and give opportunity to incorporate usage of passive solar energy, be able to control sun penetrations through house, make house – home, with very unique interior – exterior spaces, create internal galleries, create zones in overall organizations, etc.

Incorporating big ponds into atrium and overall design, give further opportunity to create interesting unexpected effects - meeting room as bridge structure, double openings full heights for living rooms, with lights totally transform house at nights particularly from central atrium and pond, maximize orientation and capture fantastic views etc.

Project started at the end of year 2006 with first client meetings, site visits and first sketches, documentation was completed at middle of year 2007. Construction started immediately after and completed for Christmas 2009. Farm house combine over 340 m2 of internal spaces, with over 200 m2 of extensive decking and over 100 m2 of different ponds. Total budget was $ 1.1 million, with completed interior and surrounding landscaping.

I suppose few photos can give first impression about project, but I believe only visit project can give full impression about it and give full impression about spirit of site and space.