Building History

When Davor Mikulcic and Michael Maddern, from Studio MWA, first sighted the brief from clients, Cherry and Brian Weatherstone they immediately saw an opportunity to create something very special. It was a huge responsibility and challenge to fulfil the clients criteria and do justice to the location and history.

What was to become known as the Rotopai Residence was to be situated on an historic site established 180 years ago by the Weatherstone family on their dairy farm in South Wairarapa. The existing home was to be relocated on a new site a few kilometres away.

“The site was fantastic,” says architect Davor Mikulcic as there were many mature trees, some over 100 years old, and well established gardens. The proposed new home could be well orientated to take full advantage of the sun, views of the farm and hills beyond.

Cherry and Brian where embarking on a journey to design and create their dream home that would become an enduring reflection of their farming history and lifestyle. It was to be contemporary but had to project the charm and spirit of “home”. This included numerous features and offices for the family business. From a functional perspective the offices were to be visually connected to the living areas of the home and able to provide storage, two work stations and a meeting room.

An important part of the farming lifestyle revolves around both friends and family and the ability to accommodate and entertain both. On occasion there is a requirement to do this on a very large scale with
up to 100 guests. Accommodation for guests with privacy from the family home was essential.

The formal lounge and dinning area showcases some of the family treasures and historic furniture from the original homestead. The lounge and dinning areas are well located close to the kitchen.

The lounge is glazed on two sides allowing views of both the atrium and the wider farmland. The generous double glazed sliders give access to the adjoining, covered deck increasing the entertainment capacity and flow. The kitchen is centred around an island bench with a breakfast bar and lounge space to relax or
discuss the events of the day. Both the lounge and family breakfast area feature open fireplaces to enhance the ambience and spirit of the farming lifestyle. The master bedroom is located towards the morning sun, opens to a deck and provides a walk in wardrobe and ensuite.

From a practical perspective utilities are well considered with a laundry close to the 3 car garaging. Access
can be made through the garage to the laundry or to the toilet facilities.

The roof is designed to collect rain water which is stored for domestic use. The overall house is orientated
towards collecting the maximum sunshine to control passive solar energy with extended eaves to prevent over heating during summer months. The concrete floors are tiled in the majority of the home to enhance the available heat sink storage.

To meet the overall requirements of the brief, and to add flair, the home has been designed around an atrium. This not only provides a unique and exciting visual effect but provides additional opportunities to
collect passive solar energy.

The distinctive shapes around the atrium core effectively create zones that determine the function. The use of interior and exterior ponds provides interest and unexpected effects with the office spaces appearing to be on a “bridge”. Galleries, interior and exterior spaces all interacting to provide interest.

The construction of the home is based on an insulated concrete pad using a combination of steel, concrete block and timber as framing and structural support. In areas throughout the home the stacked insulated block walls have been exposed as a feature and positive solar collectors. The exterior cladding is a
combination of Dimondek 400 steel, Shadowclad and plaster. The choice of Dimondek 400 roofing is both
aesthetic and practical as the home relies on collecting potable water for all domestic needs.

The interior is a combination of plastered walls and exposed polished block to provide contrast. A considerable number of walls within the home are doubled glazed glass which adds to the interest, light, solar collection and views.

The flooring is primarily tile with featured wooden floor inserts and carpeted areas confined to the bedrooms.

This project first began in the design stage in 2006, plans were completed in 2007 and the final home completed in 2009. The home covers 340m2 with over 200m2 of additional decking.

Studio MWA

Environmentally Sustainable Design is one of our main goals and focuses upon thinking towards a better future. We strongly believe that a sustainable approach and environmentally sensible designs are important ingredients in quality architecture and we are proud to incorporate it in every project.

To Studio MWA the principles such as the orientation of building, use of natural light, natural ventilation, use of passive solar energy, use of natural, recyclable and environmentally friendly materials and finishes, effective sun protection, reduction of energy consumption, providing living and working comfort without sacrificing the environment of spaces, use of energy and water efficient systems, recycling and waste management are all an integral part of our design discipline.

We believe this sustainable approach to design should not cost more. Through our work we are seeking alternative solutions to balance the energy resources we use in our everyday lives and we bring this innovative spirit to all of our projects.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Native American Proverb.

Client: Cherry and Brian Weatherstone

Architect: Davor Mikulcic

Practice Manager: Michael Maddern
Studio MWA. Wellington/ Brisbane
Telephone: 04 471 1331
Email: info@

Roofing Manufacturer: Dimond

Roofing profile and wall cladding: Dimondek 400

Colour: Ironsand

Roofing Installer: Water-Mart Wairarapa Ltd.
Telephone: 06 370-0006,

Builder: Bashford Construction Ltd.
Mobile: 027 270 5664
E -mail: