Design by FDArchitecture; We were asked by a long-standing client to design her new residence on Big Island, Hawaii. The Client, an author, designer and campaigner has specified the building must be a low-impact and substantially self-sustaining, generating its own power while the site shall be subsistence farmed.

The house design is based on a broadly archetypal Hawaiian design being a single-storey timber structure with metal roof. However, it also references some of the details and aesthetic from the beach house of the Client’s former ‘Hamptons’ home where FDA had worked with her previously.

For comfort and maintenance, the house is elevated on the site to maximise air flow below and through the building but to also enhance the available views to both ocean and mountains north and south of the site especially.

The long form of the building also borrows from other American building traditions, specifically the Louisiana ‘dog-trot’ design which sets the long side of the building in opposition to the prevailing winds. With the central section left open in, air is passively funnelled through this space and then gently ventilates each opposing end of the home. This neutral and open-sided, central living area then allows for privacy between master and guest bedroom spaces.

The building orientation also maximises the harvest of solar energy while a top-up of electrical power shall come from a small domestic wind turbine when the sun has set.

The house is set within a large wrap-around deck, locally known as a ‘Lanai’ after a neighbouring island. This provides generous outdoor living areas that the, mostly, benign climate affords. Wide roofs over sailing to protect the house from the often-harsh tropical sun and wind-driven rain.

The landscaping strategy is two-fold with close planting specifically provide additional protection to the building, in time this will provide some dissipation cover to the structure from storm winds.

The remainder of the property is largely cultivated with fruit trees and high-yield crops, grazing land and a little left over for the client’s dogs just to run wildly about on.