Craig Steely’s Innovative Lavaflow Architecture in Hawaii

Craig Steely is a native of California but has found a certain flow in Hawaii. He works in both places, but Hawaii is where the architect placed his ambitious Lavaflow series, a sequence of striking modern homes in stupendously attractive landscapes. Different residences, same idea. Which is, says Steely,

“how architecture can augment and amplify the power of living in an environment as visceral as Hawaii.” Beautifully, harmoniously, pick your platitude. Yet none is likely to capture the degree of refinement, nuance, and lack that characterize these sensitively and intuitively approached buildings.

One of the most majestic of all is Lavaflow 5, which interacts with 30 acres of remote pastureland overlooking the Hamakua coastline on the eastern slope of Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island. Trapping “sea and sky with structure and line,” the home expresses a broader want of “large open expanses.”

This the home is, positioned on top of the property, protected from a perpetual assault of strong winds, and prominent with light and walls of varying opacity supported by the slenderest of steel frames.

At the outset of the project, Steely was immersed in researching early steel-framed houses—X100 by A. Quincy Jones, Case Study House 26 by Beverly Thorne. “I like how light these houses sit on their sites,” he says of the references. “There is nothing heavy about them—neither in the size of the structure or detail.

This is one of my complaints about most current steel houses. Their proportions feel wrong and they all seem so heavy. I was lucky to meet Beverly Thorne through the process. I learned so much about detailing ‘lightly’ from him.” This would account for the perceptible lightness and near perfect proportions of Lavaflow 5, which, elevated over a reflecting pond, has a kind of mesmerizing floating effect.

The home’s reedy profile, its overall trim profile, is what allows it to melt into the immediate vicinity as if careful to not disturb it. “The interesting thing about the property,” says Steely, “is it still retains the original shape from the ancient Hawaiian land grant called an ahupua’a,” a long thin lot running from the mountain towards the sea. 

Land was divided up this way so a single hui (group) could grow diverse crops at different elevations.” (This is not just an interesting side note: That Steely considered Hawaii’s rich traditions of land, of living itself shows his broader sensitivity to the project.)

Beyond the view, the extent of the ahupua’a is visible, a facet of the home that Steely, who was raised on a walnut orchard in the country and spends a great deal of time surfing—“I don’t like being inside,” he says—was certain to highlight. Given that the architect also derives artistic inspiration from the city, Lavaflow 5 is as pristine as it is primordial, an intersection of his everyday influences.

A more literal interpretation of the environment also found its way into Lavaflow 5; this too is a Steely signature. The home features passive cooling through cross ventilation and solar heating; it is also responsibly scaled at a sensible 2,500 square feet, which accommodates three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a carport more than comfortably.

Outside is a lovely lanai. The intentionally spare palette of galvanized steel, waxed concrete, western red cedar and pine complete the home’s natural progression “from nothing, to glass, to screen, to solid.” Its minimalism might be seen as a metaphor for Steely’s reductive approach: limited materials, sparse construction, and a linear plan to open the home to the surrounding elements of land, sea, and sky.

The strong sense of economy that underscores Lavaflow 5 shows that the home was bestowed far more imagination than those with sprawling square footage, disparate elements, and little context. Rather, Lavaflow 5 is much like the scene on the other side of the glass, intentionally and pervasively unfolding. A view of before recalibrated for now. craigsteely.com



Honolulu Enclave Rising To New Heights

Once a commercial hub filled with warehouses, Honolulu enclave Kaka’ako today is a hip, bustling waterfront district rife with luxe new residential high-rises, high-end vacation rentals, plentiful shopping and dining opportunities, colorful street art, and popular annual events such as the POW! WOW! mural festival and Festa Italiana.

A piece of the past still remains intact amid the revitalization of recent years, however, including SALT at Our Kaka’ako—where Hawaii’s cultural traditions are celebrated monthly at the Pa’akai Marketplace—as well as walking paths and architectural designs complementing the area’s natural surroundings.

“Imagine strolling along the oceanfront and stopping to have a picnic at a park and then heading to enjoy a Mai Tai on a rooftop patio,” says Mark Howard, broker and owner of Hawaii Americana Realty. “Kaka’ako has it all and more, including two stops on Honolulu’s future railway coming soon.”

Nestled between Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu, Kaka’ako has unveiled seven new completed residential towers bringing more than 2,000 units into the neighborhood, with two more towers to be completed at the beginning and middle of 2019. Among them: Anaha, a new 38-story, $400 million residential tower designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz offering 318 units, a 1-acre amenity deck and Hawaii’s largest living wall boasting 8,000 species of tropical plants, as well as Howard Hughes Corp’s new A’ali’i at Ward Village, a 60-acre mixed-use residential development featuring 751 turnkey units, street-level retail and recreational amenities such as Lāna’i 42, a penthouse-level sky deck offering a rooftop fitness club, outdoor yoga studio, sunset lounge and ocean-view event spaces.

Many retail and dining establishments also have joined the scene, including Stokehouse, in the Hyatt Regency building on Kalakaua Avenue, which carries brands by Vissla, Amuse, D’Blanc and Tom Blake, as well as Chuck Wakeman’s Butcher and Bird butcher shop above Mr. Tea Cafe on Auahi Street; Maurizio Roberti and Gianpaolo Raschi’s Le Radici Italian restaurant on Kapiolani Boulevard; and Peter Merriman’s farm-to-table eatery Merriman’s Honolulu on Auahi Street, just to name a few. Also new is the University of Hawaii Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, where Café Kulia offers culinary student-crafted delicacies to the general public during the week.


BDHM Design’s “Nature Meets Neon” Look and the Revamped Shoreline Hotel Waikiki

BDHM Design’s cutting-edge “Nature Meets Neon” look showcasing bold colors and Hawaii’s tropical flora and fauna now envelopes the revamped Shoreline Hotel Waikiki

Among the highlights at Filament Hospitality’s 135-room, boutique property: a colorful signature ombré wall painted by California-based artist DJ Neff at the entrance, and a reinvented open-air lobby area featuring tropical “jungle” walls, rattan cage light fixtures housing paper sculptures of native birds and geometric-shaped furnishings. An updated rooftop pool deck boasts commissioned neon wall murals, also by Neff, while tropical wallpaper, multicolored floors and fluorescent kinetic hallways lead to redesigned rooms.

“Travelers will want to visit the new Shoreline to experience our take on a unique, vibrant and contemporary hotel in the heart of Waikiki”


Also new is live music, a shave ice cart, pau hana “relax & refresh” hour and artisan markets. “Travelers will want to visit the new Shoreline to experience our take on a unique, vibrant and contemporary hotel in the heart of Waikiki,” says General Manager Alvida Surpia-Jones, adding that the hotel’s ombré wall is particularly popular with guests, a “great spot to capture a memory.” shorelinehotelwaikiki.com

Photographs: Adam Macchia for Shoreline

Westin Hapuna Beach Resort an Island Divine

The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort Receives Multimillion Dollar Renovation

Following an extensive multimillion-dollar renovation, the former Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel now is seeing new life as The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. The retreat joins its sister property, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, as part of the greater Mauna Kea Resort property along the Kohala Coast.

Expect four new culinary concepts—the Mediterranean-inspired Meridia restaurant (complete with a new HapunaClub/Member Lounge); casual Naupaka Beach Grill, serving Pacific Rim cuisine; open-air breakfast venue ‘Ikena Landing; and Piko Coffee + Bar—along with 17 new suites and 232 redesigned guestrooms overlooking Hapuna Beach. Among the other enhancements: a revamped lobby featuring a custom living wall and vertical garden; an all-new adults-only, infinity-edge pool with private cabanas; and CrossFit and WestinWORKOUT fitness studios featuring Peloton and TRX equipment.

“Guests also are invited to join our Aloha Ambassador to experience a variety of cultural activities,” says the property’s director of sales and marketing, Brad Doell. “Included is ‘E Ala E’, a morning ritual on the Hapuna Beach Lawn to greet the sunrise, clear your thoughts and minds, hear the oli (chant) and find peace within.” westinhapunabeach.com

Photographs: courtesy of The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

Most expensive home in Hawaii

Heavenly Retreats on Kauai

A $70 Million Hawaiian Estate with a Secret Beach

Southern California is not a place short on world-class properties. However, one can be forgiven for thinking we are perhaps a bit shortchanged after glancing at this epic Neal Norman Hawaiian estate on the North Shore of Kauai, on what is perhaps the most beautiful oceanfront in the Pacific—Secret Beach

The Most Beautiful Oceanfront Property in the Pacific

The grandeur of the property—over 15 acres studded with exotic palms, citrus and coconut trees—is matched by an impeccable custom home designed by standout Seattle architect team Ross & Ralph Anderson. The residence, just a short bike ride to the quaint town of Kilauea, spans nearly 10,000 square feet of interior living space, which expands when including another 8,000 square feet of fresh-air living spaces (pools, decks and lanais).

Your 12,000 SqFt  Dream Home in Kauai

The aesthetic is Indonesian, with spaces sculpted in tropical hardwoods and carefully adorned with sculpture and artwork that’s been carefully gathered over years of traveling the globe. There are six bedrooms in all, which includes two separate guest pavilions and a master suite that one reaches by taking a charming walk over a covered bridge. Views of the ocean and nearby Kilauea Lighthouse are abundant throughout the residence.

Indonesian Aesthetic & Influences Throughout

Most spectacular is the estate’s deft showcase of Earth’s natural wonders. Trees and flowers; sea and sky—all plentiful wherever one finds themselves.

“When you step off the plane on Kauai, you get this wafting of a garden island, Jasmine filled air,” says real estate agent Neal Norman.

“The light and air here are so special, and unique to this place.”

In the already charmed Kauai, the setting is the estate’s hometown, a small, quiet place called Kilauea, where the estate is found along the area’s most exclusive street: “Kauapea Road is one of the true gems of the North Shore,” notes Norman.

The Most Exclusive Street on the North Shore

What sets the property apart from neighboring oceanfront properties is its wide swath of bluff frontage. The result is an unbridled supply of ocean views and atmosphere—something beautifully exploited by both architecture and landscaping. “It is the most organized and completely finished from head-to-toe project,” says Norman of the estate. (His focus is Kauai properties, luxury ones in particular, and he possesses an intricate knowledge of them all.)

It is from one’s private walkway that one reaches the beach, a heavenly, turquoise world where it’s likely you’ll be the only one around.

“There’s limited access to the beach, so it makes it feel quite remote,” says Norman. “There are very few people ever on the beach.”

Miles of Remote Sandy Beaches, Whales, Dolphins & Oceanviews

One needn’t walk down to the sand to take in a tropical scene of epic proportions. For that, peer out a window or, better yet, walk across the estate’s meticulous green lawn to the edge of the bluff. Standing there, one is greeted by miles of sandy beach and clear waters; whales, dolphins and other sea life. The gentle offshore winds rippling through one’s hair completes the scene.

“There’s almost like a cosmic element to this market,” Norman says of Kauai, adding: “A home waits for the right person. It always seems to wait for the right person.” For whom might this one be waiting?

“The right person will know it when they see it.” 

Presented by

Neal Norman, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
2676E Kauapea Rd, Kilauea, Hawaii

List Price: $70,000,000
Sold Price: $46,100,000 
Details: 6 Bed | 8 Bath | 11,708 SqFt living |15.33-acre land
Website: 2676kauapea.com



The Ultimate Hawaiian Retreat

A Well-Tailored Gem on Secret Beach

Overlooking the crystal waters of Secret Beach from its western bluff edge is a well-tailored estate where one can indulge in the ultimate Hawaiian retreat—with many in tow. 

The 18-plus-acre oceanfront haven sits along Secret Beach, its tidy grounds created by award-winning landscape designer Dan Pearson. Each structure is a separate haven, offering visitors a chance to experience paradise from a different perspective.

“It’s actually four different properties with four different homes.”

There’s a four-bedroom beach house with uplifting ocean views, sleek pool deck, countless lanais and separate fitness studio. Visitors take in views of lush gardens and the valley from the sunny four-bedroom guest home, or relax at a comfortable three-bedroom caretaker’s residence.

Award-Winning Design in A Tropical Paradise

Many generations of a family can vacation in supreme comfort, with ample space and privacy. Where everyone comes together in grand style is at the nearly 5,000 square-foot entertainment pavilion, designed by Warner Walker Architects, a San Francisco firm famed for its design-esque structures that meld with their natural surroundings. Glancing around at the striking hilltop spot, with its many gathering places for dining and lounging, and huge, sunlit kitchen, it’s not hard to envision the endless family memories that lie in wait for those who come to this tropical island paradise with those they hold dear.

Presented by
Neal Norman, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
Kalihiwai Road, Kilauea, Hawaii

List Price: $35,000,000


A 22-acre Super-Secluded North Shore Estate

Peace, Privacy and Endless Ocean Vistas

Each Kauai property seems to have its own personality. For this 22-acre estate, a rambling expanse of wild, natural beauty with a sunlit four-bedroom home and a poetic stone path leading down to the beach—peaceful and reclusive are the keywords. “It’s ideal if you’re looking for extreme privacy and a super-secluded beach,” says real estate agent Neal Norman.

Whether exploring the endless natural wonders of the place—from the tumbling waterfall that cascades along moss-covered rocks, to the regal palms that wave in the ocean’s soft breeze—one thing is certain: You will not yearn for civilization while in the quiet splendor of this retreat, found in Kilauea along Kauai’s North Shore.

The home is 4,458 square feet with four bedrooms, and is poised atop the property on a green, manicured ridge. Rooms are spacious and bright, with fine custom details. (The great room, for instance, is a harmonious gathering spot with glossy wood floors and a raised, woven-mat ceiling.) Oversized windows expose the bounty of ocean, sky and wildlife on the extensive grounds. Lounging under the home’s many lanais, or along the pool and spa deck, one looks out at blissful ocean scene—calm and crystalline by day; moody and serene after dark. If one is looking for neighbors, no luck: a botanical garden sits to the west, and the east is home to about 22 more tropical acres.

Presented by
Neal Norman, Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers
4228 North Waiakalua Rd, Kilauea, Hawaii

nealnorman.com | List Price: $19 Million

Written by Constance Dunn
Photography Courtesy of
Neal Norman

Kohanaiki—Ultra-luxe along the Kona Coast

Kohanaiki—Ultra-luxe along the Kona Coast

Kohanaiki—Ultra-luxe along the Kona Coast

Jet-setters land on Hawaii’s Big Island and head to the Kona Coast for deep relaxation amid Kohanaiki’s 450 acres of natural landscape. Unspoiled coastal trails, translucent blue waters and white-sand beaches set the stage, while features like a Rees Jones-designed golf course and sprawling, oceanfront clubhouse—complete with a chop house and sushi bar, a private brewery and a holistic spa by design star Tracy Lee—dress it in fine style.


When complete, the members-only community will consist of approximately 400 real estate offerings ranging in size and price—currently starting at $3 million—with postcard views of Pacific Ocean sunsets, the sculpted green golf course and misty peaks of Mount Hualālai. Becoming a member requires the purchase of onsite property—one can buy a turnkey residence or build their Hawaiian home from scratch with Kohanaiki’s dream team of architects—Shay Zak, Warren Sunnland, Jim McLaughin and Khoi Le.


Turnkey models include Hinahina, a three-bedroom getaway of 2,402 square feet, where one can contemplate the 7th fairway from their private infinity pool deck, entertain under an expansive lanai and entertain visitors at a separate guest hale (home).

Kohanaiki—Ultra-luxe along the Kona Coast

An elegant lanai where one can spend the day soaking up lush island views

Non-members can enjoy Kohanaiki via membership at the invite-only Hale Club, with homes ranging from one to four bedrooms and designed by modern Hawaiian master Shay Zak. kohanaiki.com

Written by Constance Dunn
Photographs: courtesy of Kohanaiki

Call Kukui’ula on Kauai Your Next Home

Come home to Kukui’ula, Kauai

Loved for its undeveloped feel and raw natural beauty, Kauai is nicknamed the Garden Isle for the rainforest covering much of the ancient island. Along its South Shore is Kukui’ula, a private community spread out over 1,000 acres, formerly the home of McBryde Sugar Plantation.

Aerial shot of “Kahalawai 38”

A mix of Plantation-style residences—many with glorious ocean views—populate the verdant hillsides and epic coast, with prices starting at approximately $2.4 million for a condo and upwards of $13 million for a five-bedroom custom home. Non-members can book stays at The Lodge at Kukui’ula, which offers a stylish mix of cottages, bungalows and villas, all in the Plantation vernacular.

An elegant dining scene from custom home “Kahalawai 7”

The heart of the community is the Clubhouse, a $100 million home base where one can head out to play 18 holes on the Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course or book a treatment at the wellness retreat—an ocean-view oasis where fresh herbs and botanicals sourced from Kukui’ula’s 10-acre farm formulate its one-of-a-kind products.

Kitchen view in “Kahalawai 38″


One can lounge on the sprawling green of the club’s Great Lawn or head to the infinity pool—a family-friendly spot adjacent to the property’s network of idyllic saltwater pools connected via cascading waterfalls, a waterslide and manmade beach. Other family fun is had on island excursions and onsite cultural activities led by an honorary kupuna (elder), from storytelling to stringing leis. kukuiula.com

Written by Constance Dunn
Photographs: courtesy of Kukui’ula

Montage Residences at Kapalua Bay

84-Exclusive Oceanfront Residences On Maui’s Coast

Named after a demigod who pulled at the ocean floor with his magical fishing hook to create The Big Island, Maui is home to 120 miles of epic coastline. Along the West Maui coast is postcard-perfect Kapalua Bay, home to Montage Residences at Kapalua Bay—an exclusive oceanfront community of 84 luxury residences set within Kapalua Resort, and priced from $3.5 million.

An elegant oceanfront community

Limited Number of 3-4 Bedroom Residences Available

Residences are three or four bedrooms, ranging in size from approximately 2,700 to 4,055 square feet, and sold unfurnished, allowing one’s personal design ideas to spring to life. Those so inclined can tap one of Montage Residences Kapalua Bay’s design partners for interior furnishing options.

A sunny living room with abundant ocean views

An Exclusive Oceanfront in West Maui

The intimate community is a place of quiet retreat, complete with a 30,000-square-foot ocean-view spa and fitness center, Asian-influenced gourmet dining and 8,500 square feet of leisurely, lagoon-style pools. Step outside to Kapalua Resort—where Montage Residences Kapalua Bay homeowners enjoy access to a dynamic roster of recreation activities—to indulge world-class golf at two PGA- and LPGA-level courses: Plantation Course, ranked best in Hawaii for a decade by Golfweek, and Bay Course, home of over 20 pro tournaments. Non-golfers will revel in the fresh-air paradise of Kapalua Bay, from its rugged coastal trails to beachfront fun ranging from stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling to lounging along its peaceful, white-sand beaches. 

Inquire: montageresidenceskapaluabay.com

Written by Constance Dunn
Photographs: courtesy of Montage Residences at Kapalua Bay

Vladimir Ossipoff changes the Hawaiian Landscape

A Modern Original

With a respect for nature and the modern genre, visionary architect Vladimir Ossipoff changed the landscape in Hawaii

One can’t help but reflect on what Howard and Betty Liljestrand might have been thinking when moving into their much-studied hillside home overlooking Honolulu—a lauded Vladimir Ossipoff with a porte-cochère, stunning central stairwell and dramatically angled overhangs. Did they know what we now do?

Liljestrand House yard

That the Liljestrand House (now a museum) would be named a “Pace Setter House” by House Beautiful in 1958? That it would be listed on National Register of Historic Places in 2008? That many would come to call it the Fallingwater of Hawaii? Certainly Betty, on board most days as general contractor of the project, sensed its specialness. Perhaps even Howard. They were, after all, people who appreciated good design and knew that in Ossipoff they had a once-in-a-million hire.

Outrigger Canoe Club

Although his name is less familiar to mainlanders as it is to islanders, Vladimir Ossipoff is celebrated the world over as the “master of Hawaiian architecture,” a moniker not without irony. Born in Russia, raised in Japan, and educated at UC Berkeley, Ossipoff landed in Honolulu in 1931, where he was at the frontlines of Tropical Modernism. In this vernacular, Ossipoff was brilliant, a dedicated combatant waging what he called—vocally and without reservation—a “war on ugliness,” brought on by dismal architectural design and rampant over-development in the Hawaiian Islands.

Conviction-driven and no-nonsense in his approach, Ossipoff argued for restraint, and for architecture that was environmentally sensitive, culturally contextualized and appropriate to the unique characteristics of the landscape—its light and microclimates. Inspired by the interaction of indoor and outdoor space, Ossipoff’s designs are best understood as responses to these regional concerns. His work within this place-sensitive framework exhibits a cross-cultural style; he fused Japanese building techniques with the principles of modern architecture that defined the Mid-century Modern period. Ossipoff’s use of natural materials, from native woods to lava rock, was crucial and reinforced his intent to create architecture that did not overpower nature, but rather, seemed to spring from it.

The iconic IBM Building

Ossipoff completed a staggering number of projects, more than 1,000, including significant private homes like the Liljestrand House; simple, culturally considered chapels; airport terminals and more. The IBM Building, its latticed façade part of architectural lore in Honolulu, is a tour de force of his commercial output. Now occupied by the Howard Hughes Corporation and the primary office for Ward Village, the building is a guiding ideal of the Mid-century Modern aesthetic, its honeycomb motif meant to reflect a computer punch card while keeping the blazing sun at bay.

IBM Building

As modern it is, the structure is a glaring prompt of Ossipoff’s past. As a young boy in Japan, Ossipoff and his family would occasionally take tea at the Imperial Hotel, designed by the architect to whom he is most frequently compared, Frank Lloyd Wright. Given this, one naturally wonders if Ossipoff channeled this memory when blueprinting the IBM Building.

In 1998, having spent nearly seven decades in the Hawaiian Islands, Vladimir Ossipoff succumbed to old age. But his vision for Hawaii was, as it still is, modern.

Tropical Flair

Tropical Flair

Bring a breath of tropical flair and an island vibe to your home with natural materials and leaf motifs designed to create a laid-back, breezy space that inspires a coveted vacation feel all year long


1 Tuvalu Home

Malibu Up Chandelier
$2,900, tuvaluhome.com


2 New Moon

Shibori (Mineral)


3 Made Goods

Casey Mirror


4 Serena & Lily

Pacific Outdoor Pendant
$218 (small), serenaandlily.com


5 Tommy Bahama

Banana Leaf Salad Plate Set
$115 (set of 4), and

Pineapple Reversible Placemat
$28, tommybahama.com


6 Serena & Lily

Harrison Swivel Cube (Palm)
$798, serenaandlily.com


7 Tommy Bahama

Riviera Original 10.5-Foot
Stand-up Paddleboard
$1,150, tommybahama.com


8 Bend

Peacock Lounge, Pad & Pillow, $1,040 (lounge) and $240 (pad and pillow), bendgoods.com

Curated by Karine Monié
Photographs: (in order) courtesy of Tuvalu Home, New Moon, Made Goods (lifestyle), Serena & Lily, Tommy Bahama and Bend

Hagy Belzberg of Santa Monica is True to Form

Experience the pleasure of living in paradise through this rapturous example of Hawaii architecture—enjoy the view

The fact that this 8,000-square-foot residence set between cooled lava flows in Kona, Hawaii was completed in 2010 but looks as every bit as forward today as it likely will years from now, is a testament to its principal architect, Hagy Belzberg, of Santa Monica-based firm Belzberg Architects—a home both of and ahead of its time.

The entry pavilion echoes a traditional basket weave

Though easy to take the home’s measurement in the honors it has collected, including “Best of the Year Award” from Interior Design Magazine, more is required. This is architecture best appreciated as a broadly thought response to site and surround. Consider the contrast of natural elements, geometric hardscape and views of both volcanic mountains and ocean horizons.

The Kona residence is orientated in relation to the site’s primary views

The environmental sensitivities: a system for rain water collection, roof-mounted photovoltaic panels to offset residential energy use, dark lava stone to help heat the pool via solar radiation. And finally the historical references of reclaimed teak timber from old barns and train tracks and cut lava rock used for the exterior, and the inspired basket weave of the entry pavilion, meant to reenact the traditional gift upon arrival ceremony.

Openness to the outdoors is a property signature

But this is not a historical home, its contemporary in program and approach. So forward in both, any description of architectural abstractions is an abridgment at best. To experience the home is to understand it.


Written by Jenn Thornton
Photographs: courtesy of Benny Chan/Fotoworks

Honolulu Urban Solitude in Kapiwai

Touted as “a modern return to living in the natural world,” Kapiwai (meaning “sprinkling water”) offers residential paradise—and a communing with nature—just minutes from bustling downtown Honolulu. Set atop a gentle bluff overlooking a sparkling stream, the new private, eco-friendly project features a 16.5-acre residential development adjoining an additional seven acres of preserved open space and a nonprofit component focused on sustainability that enables homeowners to grow their own gardens, help restore a traditional `auwai water channel for irrigation and even catch crayfish.

“This was among the last large, historically cultivated sites in urban Honolulu,” says Barry Sullivan, a managing member of developer Pauoa Builders LLC, who collaborated on the project with de Reus Architects, Turkel Design, and Unlimited Construction. “I grew up on a small farm, and with my partners, wanted to create a natural setting where families could reconnect directly with raising food, cultivating fruits and florals, and spending time outside paying attention to nature.”

Adds architect and designer Mark de Reus of de Reus Architects: “The architectural assignment at Kapiwai was one of letting sustainability and livable functionality drive the design response to achieve an aggressively low construction cost.” 

Situated on a newly built private road in upper Pauoa Valley—less than five minutes from downtown Honolulu, near Pacific Heights, Tantalus Mountain, Punchbowl Crater and the south shore of Oahu— Kapiwai was completed in 2017. Living options include 24 single and two-story three- to four-bedroom homes ranging from 1,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet, with prices from $1.2 million to more than $2 million.

Expect modern, tropical-style residences designed to blend with the natural surroundings, complete with soaring ceilings, oversized windows and butterfly roofs to allow for abundant natural light, along with Viking and Thermador appliances, wine cellars, designer closets, lanais, two-car garages and solar packages.

Home sites vary from 5,500-square-foot treetop lots offering expansive views to 18,000-plus-square-foot estate parcels adjacent to the stream. Almost every lot overlooks and opens onto Kapiwai Gardens, which boasts vistas of the spring-fed stream, a 25-foot waterfall, a grotto, hiking paths, a community pavilion, and an apiary.

“The project is an urban oasis,” says Sullivan. “Within the homes, you hear nothing but birds, the breeze and the stream. Yet, within 10 minutes, are all of the major hospitals; downtown Honolulu and the Chinatown Historic district with its restaurants, bars, clubs and theaters; Kakaako; and the Ala Moana Center and Beach Park. It’s close to everything, but a world away.”


Written by Wendy Bowman
Photographs: courtesy of de Reus Architects

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