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This was our first Hawaiian project. Our goal was to come up with a contemporary expression of Hawaiian architecture. Our solution is a composition of hip-roofed pavilions connected by a covered lanai. We deviated from the typical Hawaiian solution in two significant ways - in the site plan organization and in how we used local materials. Rather than locate the pool in the view where all the children’s activity and energy becomes the foreground, we excavated the site down one level - creating a grotto for the pool (which also kept it out of the wind). Simultaneously, we navigated the site’s very strict height limit by adding a complete lower level that looks out upon the pool area. The pool becomes the functional and symbolic center of the plan and the lower spaces benefit from the light and air of its private open space. The ocean view meanwhile remains uninterrupted from the main lanai, bedroom, office, living, dining, and kitchen spaces above.

For the material palette we wanted to come up with choices that were Hawaiian in spirit and would stand up to the rigors of oceanfront living but would still be unique. So the main walls of the house are lava, but they are stacked slabs of varying thickness - smooth on the interior and split-faced on the exterior. All of the pavilions have a continuous clerestory window band, allowing natural ventilation through the entire structure, even when the doors are secure. Large sliding glass panels pocket into the stone walls - enabling a complete open plan between inside and out, which was perhaps the most important aspect of the Hawaiian lifestyle that we wanted to capture. The end result is a sophisticated, yet very comfortable beach house where activity and contemplation can coexist in their Hawaiian context.

Big Island, Hawaii | 2012

LD Team

Michelle Kriebel
Lev Bereznycky

Project Team

Ryan Associates

Made by our shop

  • Kotatsu
  • Embedded glass sleeves
  • Ipe wood and stainless steel railings
  • Wood and steel desk
  • Wine shelves


Matthew Millman, Olle Lundberg, Michelle Kriebel