Planning Architecture Design

Hale 'Oma'oma'o

Custom Builder Magazine Design Competition

The house is located on Oahu, Hawaii on one of the many infill city lots available but would be equally at home on any of the islands and country locations as well. The main appeal of this house is in its classic proportions and the simplicity of its design. Decoration is sparing; simple line and plane act as foil for the lush, tumultuous tropical landscaping of its locale. The house is designed to be open and airy to maximize natural ventilation. It is flexible to adapt to change over time just as families change over time.

Ohana is the Polynesian word for family which naturally means extended family! The concept of extended family living together under one roof, or more typically in a family compound, is quite common throughout the Pacific islands of Oceania. It is also a common concept among many Asian groups which immigrants to Hawaii.

Roof: Deep eaves shelter and shade the upper windows and walls; they keep wind driven rain from entering the upper windows, which are almost always open in the tropics. The metallic silver color corrugated metal roofing reflects the sun’s heat and is reminiscent of simple plantation roofs. Cisterns collect rainwater from the roof for use in landscape irrigation.

Orientation: The house is oriented to catch the cooling Tradewinds, which travel roughly northeast to southwest. In addition the L-shape provides natural shade from the south and west for the courtyard, providing a cool sheltering place for outdoor living. In the tropics, direct sun is not always welcome.

House layout: The courtyard and walled gardens enclose the home in privacy. Most rooms open out to the courtyard or overlook it. The courtyard, part covered and part open, is the focal point for the home; it acts as an outdoor living space shared by the upper and lower living areas and as circulation to the various sections of the house.

A raised lap pool can be added in the future as it requires minimal excavation. The raised perimiter provide additional seating for the courtyard and adds to the sense of enclosure and privacy.

Two garports (part garage, part carport) allow air to flow keeping the house and parking areas cool and dry. While the home is very private and secure, it presents a friendly cheerful presence to the street. The garage doors have windows and the side yard landscaping can be seen to spill over the garden wall.

The lower floor would house part of the ohana, while the upper floor would house another group. Perhaps older members, young adult children, would occupy the first floor. The first floor is flexible and can be used as an open recreation area or can be divided for additional bedrooms if needed. A central hall entrance provides a straight-run stair which could be fitted with a mechanical lifting device for an older family member. Alternately, an elevator could be added in place of the stairs at the end of the covered lanai.

Materials: Lower floors are stained, waxed and polished concrete floors which provide a cool surface. Upper floors are wood flooring. All floors are easy to clean and would not trap dust and mold.

Windows are solid-blade louvers, which can be adjusted for visual privacy while maintaining the ability to allow natural ventilation. Curtains, which can trap dust, pollen and mold are not needed. Doors are fixed louver, also to promote good air flow throughout the home.

Landscaping: The gardens are a mixture of indigenous species Hawaiian plants. Fragrant plumeria, pu’u kini’kini and ginger are planted on the windward side of the house allowing tropical scents to be carried by the Tradewinds throughout the courtyard and house. On the sunny leeward side, banana, papaya, and guava (irrigated by rain and retained rain water from the roof) provide fresh fruit for the ohana.

Additional ‘green’ features: Solar panels on the south facing long wing of the roof heat water for the home. Additional PV panels can be added to augment electrical power. Paved areas are porous paving which allows rainwater to permeate the soil, reducing run-off.

The house is 2,800 square feet exclusive of garages, covered lanais and paved terrace. The house design is economical to build and the dimensions lend themselves to modular building techniques or standard site-built construction. Finishes are simple and durable. Many features of the house can be built simply at first and upgraded later as needed. There is ample room for extension.


Affinity Hawaii, Honolulu - 808.221.0717 -