olson kundig architects

When architect Tom Kundig, FAIA, sat down to design this Hawaii beach house, he faced a dual challenge. The owner had asked him to make the project as sturdy and low-maintenance as possible, because it would have to weather strong storms on its waterfront site. At the same time, the local climate is often mild, so Kundig wanted to open the home to the outdoors as much as he could. “The trick is, how do you do that with a building that has to be sealed?” he says.

He decided to take advantage of abundant natural breezes by strategically placing openings in the home’s corrugated metal roof. Rather than blowing into the house, trade winds sweep over the roof, creating a cooling vacuum that pulls air through the interiors. Kundig also separated the project into three structures, connecting them with covered walkways. The central portion features hydraulic window walls that, when raised, transform the building into an open-air pavilion.

Rammed-earth walls made with soil from the site help root the home in its location, as well as satisfying the need for durability. Their warm, variegated hues pick up the tones of the concrete, wood, and steel used throughout the project. “This house is just incredibly beautiful,” one judge said.

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