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Character strengths  

A love of heritage and character homes is key for architect Mona Kruse Hurnen, founding director of popular architect firm Callidus Architects

Architect Mona Kruse Hurnen, founding director of Callidus
Architect Mona Kruse Hurnen, founding director of Callidus Architects

The first steps in life can have an impact on your future, and this goes for award-winning architects too.

At high school in Denmark, architect Mona Kruse Hurnen fell asleep in a presentation about being an art history teacher – so scratched that idea.

However, soon after a presentation by an architect on space and space creation and how it actually works with humans captured her imagination and from very early on Hurnen knew she was going to be an architect.

Hurnen describes her design style as a combination of Scandinavian, being from Europe, and a reflection of the New Zealand vernacular in terms of creating space and interactive space.

“So I guess it's a fusion of those two styles – for example in terms of colour: obviously quite light light and white spaces, but also some colour and an interesting mix of those two.”

Homes are for living in

In terms of the market, there is a move away from an over-focus on investment, says the Wellington-based architect: “Owners are thinking about what they enjoy themselves rather than on-selling. The result is a little bit more individuality, which I don't think is a bad thing – and part of this is that people are no longer so scared about trying out colour and having some fun with it.

With an eclectic approach to inspiration, Hurnen draws on everything from noting the day-to-day things, things as small as effective label colours in the supermarket, to drawing on her world travels such as visiting Park Güel in Barcelona  – “That was so challenging to your perception of spaces and of what you think is important.”

Part of the design brief for this kitchen
Part of the design brief for this kitchen was to blend it successfully into the open plan living area and that it would look like attractive furniture.

Classic bungalows and villas

Mona Hurnen's love of heritage buildings and character homes gained from her early years in Scandinavia has translated into a love of New Zealand’s classic bungalows and villas

This love of New Zealand’s older buildings and breathing new life into them that has created a niche market for Callidus Architects and today the company specialises in alterations and additions to heritage architecture projects.

“Bringing these buildings up to modern day living while retaining their character and street appeal is what we are experienced in, and enjoy doing.”

One of Hurnen’s favourite moments in her work is leaving a meeting after a really positive experience – “Where the clients are so excited and, you know, say, 'oh, I never imagine it could look like this' or 'I had never thought of that'.”

When asked about sustainability, the architect says she feels it’s an over-used word.

“I think the common perception is when you think about sustainability, you think a new build and you put in lots of wool insulation and other sustainable materials,” she says. “However, the most sustainable house is one already built, because there's embodied energy

in terms of what we've already got versus what you're creating for a new space."

The challenge for this project was to successfully
The challenge for this project was to successfully incorporate the home's individualistic windows and provide an understated finished look whjch wouldn't detract from the bush and ocean views.

Straight thinking on sustainability

“And the most sustainable buildings that we have in New Zealand are the old wooden houses because when you think of how long it took to grow these trees and what quality materials they're built out of – if they look attractive 50 years or 100 years after they have been built, we still want to renovate them and take care of them and look after them.

“That becomes a more sustainable project if you start calculating in the life age of the property.”

The team at Callidus can provide total project services from initial concepts, through to construction drawings, on-site administration, landscaping, interior design and heritage assessments.

“We have the experience to create loveable, useable environments while ensuring the on-going use of character and heritage buildings,” Mona Hurnen says.

To find out more and talk to Mona Hurnen, contact Callidus Architects

See more from Mona Hurnen

Story by: Trendsideas

08 Oct, 2023

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