A Work Of Art

Architect Davor Mikulcic showcases a recent project which illustrates the results that can be achieved by time, hard work and an inspired creative design team.

The Pendrous home is situated in the Seagrove subdivision which is a typical Wellington site of just over 500 square meters. The flat area forming the building platform is  approx. 250 square meters the balance of the site slopes away at  35 to 40 degrees at the rear.

The site offers spectacular panoramic views. From the South east to north east are visas from Petone to Wellington central and the harbour. The south is bounded by an existing dwelling which to a degree influenced the positioning of a blind side to create privacy for both the client and his new neighbour. The over all objective was to capitalise on the fantastic views and capture as much sun as possible without losing privacy.

Steve Pendrous, the client, provided a simple but detailed brief and wish list for the new home. Capturing the view and maximising the sun was a given. On the practical side Steve wanted a double garage with plenty of storage and internal access to the home. The master bedroom was to have a separate ensuite with a walk in wardrobe. Two further bedrooms were to share the facilities of the second bathroom. A separate laundry which could be compact and contained within a closing cupboard door. In the living area was to be a third toilet/bathroonm for guest to use. In the family area the Pendrous’s wanted an open plan kitchen/ living and dinning area which would enjoy the views and open onto a sheltered outdoor living area protected from the Wellington southerly wind.
A separate formal living area was required for entertaining. This was to have easy and direct access from the entry and entry hall. A studio area as a work space was to be included.

The exterior was to be as maintenance free as is possible. This included the building materials and the landscaping. The landscaping was to reflect the architectural aspects of the building and to maximise the somewhat challenging aspects of a steep site.

The initial site appraisal and subsequent topographical site survey indicated that the best solution towards achieving the client’s objectives was to consider a three story building. Architect Davor Mikulcic says, “ this complicated  aspects of the structural design however the three stories gave me an excellent opportunity to divide the function of spaces into logical areas.”

Having reached the conclusion that 3 stories was the most practical solution the design then had to conform to the Wellington Council’s district front, side and rear set back and height control plan requirements. Given the slope and size of the site this presented a considerable challenge. To add to this the design team, lead by Davor, are adamant that their designs be seen as sculpture rather than structure. “We strive to produce unique architecture which pushes the boundaries of creative design and solutions” says Davor, “ To achieve this we involve the entire design team and our clients. Like many of out projects we have to challenge ourselves and
clients to work outside of the square. It is a challenge, it is exciting and frustrating at times, but the results are always very rewarding.”

The Pendrose residence is an example of architecture in its wider context which explores all aspects of the design in relation to the site. The key element of the design, the central steps, is the focal point which connects the three levels and visually binds the composition of the building.

Davor describes the result as a “Game of angles” which captures the views and sun creating interesting spaces for reading or services within the home. This was only possible because of the freedom allowed by the client who essentially gave a free hand in the total design. This included every possible aspect of the design; Kitchen, ensuite, bathroom, laundry, internal and external finishes, landscaping and lighting. In fact every detail including the choice of fittings. This freedom of design and expression results in a building which is in total empathy within the landscape and the relationship of spaces within the design. The freedom to express the “idea driven” design as a complete project is where MWA Studio believe they can and do excel. It is a combination of interior and exterior design skills working together which make the point of difference.

Davor is quick to point out that this level of result can only be achieved with time and a client who is prepared to make the journey with the design team. Some clients believe that somehow excellence in architecture is achieved by waving a magic wand... it is not. It does take time. It is hard work.  Davor makes a point of reminding his clients that internationally leading architects utilise many sketches and models prior to achieving the best design. A practice he endorses. In this instance the client utilized the time to truly consider the detail, to change aspects of the design, furnishings, and fittings in harmony with the appearance of the spaciousness of the building.

The concept that the “first design is the best” is not part of MWA’s culture. Mediocrity is not acceptable in creative architectural design. Excellence can only be achieved by exploring and examining every possible option.

To achieve this MWA utilize every design tool available from sketches and scale models to computer generated 3D models. They are the first to acknowledge that without these tools and the collaboration of architect, consultants, trades people on site and the client co-operation their designs could become just another unrealised project that did not achieve it’s potential.

On the structural level the residence has a concrete floor on the lower ground floor and first floor. The third floor structure is a combination of timber and steel. Concrete block walls extending to the first floor and concrete slab. The concrete on these levels is designed as a heat reservoir for passive solar heating which is enhanced by the use of tiled flooring and the double glazed windows. Glazed areas extend into wall dividers on two of the floor levels giving a modem spacial feel and allowing sunlight to penetrate the heat sump which collects passive solar heat which is of particular benefit during winter months.

The choice of exterior materials grew with the form of the design as it progressed. Budget was a factor however the choices were made with the overall objectives clearly defined, to achieve sculptured architecture. Dimondeck 400 was the preferred cladding and chosen for its simple and elegant line and the concealed fixing benefits. The combination of flashing and fixing ensured a water tight finish and complied with the Wellington design specification of “above very high wind zoning”.

The roof line was at minimal pitch to comply with the height control plane carefully avoiding a flat or classical roof pitch.

The Dimondeck 400 was complemented with the use of James Hardie Lineaboard’s emphasising the horizontal lines associated with traditional weatherboards and Titan Board. The joinery was from the Fairview aluminium architectural series with grey tinted double glazing. The over all colour scheme was deliberately monochromatic to accentuate the sculptured appearance, avoid trends and fit comfortably into the landscape.

The interior colour choices are muted whites and earthen colours to avoid colours which might otherwise detract from the clients choices in art. furnishings and the view.

The true test of the success of the design is best described by Steve Pondrose who says,” The view from every room is amazing...I do not know where else in the world we could enjoy such views so close to the city. My favourite space is the studio on the top level with its adjoining roof terrace is a place to go to relax. It is light, airy and the view from the roof terrace makes me feel as if I am a million miles away from everything.”

As with other clients Davor takes great pride in the relationship with his clients and gets great satisfaction in achieving the clients dream while fulfilling his own expectations of architectural design excellence.
While the list of people involved in contributing to the success of this project Davor gives special credit to his colleague, Michael Maddern, the interior designer from Studio MWA  for his input into the interior design, documentation and construction supervision. Tararua Roofing who did an exceptional job with the Colorsteel on the cladding and roofing. Steve Brakembury, the main builder and his team who turned the design plan into a reality. Hadrian Noble from Noble kitchen. “This guy is a craftsman” says Davor. He made an exception job of the kitchen and bathroom joinery.

Studio MWA Ltd, is a newly formed, award winning architectural practice and partnership between Principal Architect Davor Mikulcic and Practice Manager Jonathan Wilson.
Included in the team are Michael Maddern as interior designer and David Thompson as architectural designer.

The team is concentrating on high end residential and commercial projects including Urban Design. The accent is on design orientated architecture.

Davor has an established working association with Thompson Adsett Architects Brisbane office and their Studio 39. Davor forms part of a design management team working on Australasian and International projects. Most of these are on a very large scale and include commercial complexes, Public Buildings, Age Care Developments and others. His time is divided each month between the Australian and New Zealand offices which offers a great variety of work which he enjoys giving him the opportunity to apply his creative design skills in achieving excellence in architecture at both ends of the scale.

Client: Steve Pendrous

Architect: Davor Mikulcic
Studio MWA Ltd
Telephone: +64 4 801 9141

Metal Claddiing and roof Manufacturer: Dimond
Profile: Roofing and cladding
Dimondek 400
Colorsteel Maxx 0.55BMT
Flashings: Colorsteel Maxx 0.55BMT
Colour: Sandstone Grey

Roof and cladding installer:
Tararua Roofing
Telephone: 04 569 3074

Builder: Steve Brakembury
Telephone: 021 840963

Kitchen and interior design:
Studio MWA Ltd.

Kitchen Joinery: Noble Kitchen
Hadrian Noble
Telephone: 04 528 3965

Windows: Fairview Aluminium Joinery
Telephone: 04 564 9669

Photography: Ivor-Earp-Jones  Wellington
Telephone: 0274430807.