DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE

FROM MOUNTAIN TO SEA

This family home perched on dramatic stretch of coastline in Hawaii is inspired by the spirit of Mauka-Makai, the symbolic flow of lava from mountain to sea.

MANDI KEIGHRAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN, LAURE JOLIET, MARION BRENER

Architecture: Walker Warner

Architects Interiors: NICOLEHOLLIS

Landscape: Lutsko

Associates Builder: Ledson Construction

Structural: GFDS Engineers

Hawaii is a land of dramatic contrasts, from the dizzying heights of Mauna Kea and the ever-flowing lava of Volcanoes National Park, to lush rainforest and the colored-sand beaches at Papakolea. It’s this diverse natural landscape that inspired Kua Bay Residence, a luxurious family retreat by Walker Warner Architects nestled into a mountainside site overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the arid Kona shore of Hawai‘i, the largest island in the archipelago.

“The home embraces the spirit of Mauka-Makai—the symbolic flow of lava from mountain to sea—through its direct connections to the volcanic landscape and dramatic vistas of the Pacific Ocean,” says principal architect, Greg Warner.

 

The entrance to the home has been cut into the sculptural 15-foot-high lava rock formations on the mountain side of the property, offering privacy to the clients and a discreet visual presence. The multilayered home then descends down the site, with a garage screened by corten steel panels and small guesthouse on one side of the drive, and the large main house and pool on the other. The horizontal lines of the architecture elegantly mirror the ocean’s horizon, while a living roof evocatively planted with native grasses further enhances the intimate connection with the landscape.

The sensitive landscaping by Lutsko Associates is arranged around a series of multi-level courtyards, that are set into the site and gradually open up to the expansive ocean views. These pockets of comfort within the rugged landscape—described by the architects as “striking outdoor lava grotto space”—allow the residents to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the site.

 

Blurring the boundary between interior and exterior living, the home boasts expansive floor-to-ceiling windows and pocketing glass doors, protected by sleek timber screens that soften the light. The interior design by NICOLEHOLLIS is a celebration of casual coastal comfort, with light-coloured furnishings and finishes—such as the bright marble kitchen island—off-set by darker design details—including intricately crafted branch-like door handles—that both complement and contrast the moody landscape. Throughout, the minimalist interiors are juxtaposed against the raw beauty of the site, nowhere more so than in the bedroom suites which open to private outdoor terraces faced by an uncompromising wall of natural lava.

 

The open living space extends out to a traditional ocean-facing lanai (verandah) that leads to an infinity-edge pool surrounded by private gathering spaces and lush greenery. From here, Kaho’olawe—the smallest of Hawaii’s volcanic islands—can be seen on the horizon, setting the scene for luxurious island living at its most dramatic.

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