Inspired by traditional Balinese palaces and temples, the Ocean House, near Mauna Kea in Hawaii, is located on a promontory of exposed lava. Three pavilions and their connecting pathways rest on a poured concrete foundation; lava rock was replaced around it to integrate the house with the striking natural landscape.
Inspired by traditional Balinese palaces and temples, this house in Hawaii stands on a promontory of exposed lava. Though modern, the house uses tropical design concepts to fit naturally in its setting and to take advantage of time-honored building practices.
Broad overhangs protect the large expanses of sliding window walls from the strong sun, yet allow the house to be cooled using existing breezes. Windows are arranged to maximize cross ventilation and a combination of shutters, screens and doors allow the owners to adjust the temperature inside.
In tropical tradition, external walkways and internal corridors of stone connect the forms of three pavilions. A series of outdoor rooms are important living spaces in the tropical climate. The master suite is offset and separate from the living areas and guest suites, appearing to float like a boat toward the shoreline.
A series of reflecting pools align along a central axis. The entry sequence and internal circulation keeps returning to this line. Seen from the main living area, it terminates in an outside pool that joins visually with the ocean and the horizon.
The lava rock base anchors the house to the site, while the roof planes appear to float in the sky. The house is built with lasting materials—stone, teak, bronze, steel and copper—to stand up to the harsh coastal weather and because of their simple beauty. The restrained elegance of the material palette serves as a quiet backdrop for the owners’ collection of Asian art and artifacts as well as modern art.
Project Team: Jim Olson, FAIA, Design Principal; Kevin Kudo-King, AIA LEED AP, John Kennedy, LEED AP, Project Managers; Shea Bajaj, Stefan Wong, Architectural Staff
Contractor: Metzler Contracting Company
Photographers: Paul Warchol and Jim Olson / Olson Kundig