Kona House, Hookena HI

This vacation home is located on the west coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, 25 miles south of Kailua-Kona. On the active volcano Mauna Loa—from the ocean floor the highest mountain in the world—the topography is an incline of gradual yet majestic dimension. The geology is black lava of a harsh and elemental nature. The specific site is a long 60 foot wide lot, overlooking a cove and black sand beach.

The design derives from both traditional local precedents and memories of the clients’ extensive travels in southern Italy. In ancient Hawaiian culture, the pu‘uhonua or City of Refuge was an isolated, walled compound where social outcasts could retreat to achieve absolution, and noncombatants and defeated soldiers sought shelter during wars. The clients were also struck by the physical and allegorical similarities between the area and the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, with their mutual histories of cataclysmic natural events. Furthermore, the Pompeiian house typology, with its orchestrated hierarchy of spaces from public realm through atrium to private garden, was seen as a useful paradigm for planning