i+D - July/August 2021 - 18

Design
Pulse
Honolulu
The Backyard Garden for Kokua
Hawaii Foundation is a project
of WATG Honolulu's pro bono
initiative, Deserving Designs.
(Image: Courtesy of WATG Honolulu)
ARCH Hawaii
Not surprisingly, much of the design sensibility
in Hawaii reflects local flavor with a strong focus
on the environment. " A big emphasis of the local
design style is on sustainability and locally sourced
or upcycled materials, " notes Evan Collier, founder
of ARCH Hawaii, a custom design and fabrication
studio in Honolulu. " And with the high cost and
longer lead time of new raw materials, based
on availability on the island, a huge emphasis is
placed on recycled goods. ... Of course, everything
naturally has its touch of local Hawaiian and surf
culture influences. "
WATG Honolulu
Renowned for its stunning hospitality design work, WATG Honolulu launched
its 2020 pro bono initiative, Deserving Designs, in celebration of the firm's
75th anniversary. " The program donates our expertise, materials, tools, and
time to a project that will have a lasting impact on the Oahu community
and its residents, " explains Brown. After a nomination and review process,
WATG chose the non-profit organization Kokua Hawaii Foundation, set on
eight acres in Hale'iwa on the North Shore of Oahu in Honolulu County,
where it supports local environmental education. WATG designed the Backyard
Garden to serve as an educational hub and community gathering place, and the
scope of the project included planting edible gardens as well as native, canoe,
lei, and pollinating plants; use of recycled and upcycled materials; stormwater
retention; composite and vermiculture; and adding an outdoor deck for
meetings and performances.
" WATG's goals are to help this non-profit realize their vision for this unused
green, combining functionality and sustainability-to cultivate the already
existing environment, accentuating the flow of indigenous plants, making the
layout purposeful and relatable to Hawaii, " Brown says. " Respecting Hawaii's
environment and protecting green space is a huge concern for many on our
island. A challenge here was to safeguard [and design around] existing trees
that are onsite, many of which are considered landmarks. "
Through thoughtful designs by WATG, the Backyard Garden has emerged as
a quiet sanctuary away from bustling Hale'iwa. Brown notes, " We referenced
Hawaiian ideologies of the environment, being thoughtful and respectful of
what was already and always there. [As a result, it's] a picturesque tropical
garden rooted in culture and respect for nature. "
Collier originally launched ARCH NYC in Brooklyn
in 2010 and expanded to Honolulu in 2016,
partnering with local events firm Events International
to form ARCH Hawaii. Since then, his design team
has been creating a name for themselves on the local
design scene with various retail pop-ups. Recently,
ARCH collaborated with established local ad agency
Anthology Group to complete a mobile activation
for Hawaii Telcom " to make an eye-catching mobile
activation that is fun, playful, and useful while being
as earth-friendly and sustainable as possible, " Collier
notes. " Our scope included conceptual design,
project management, fabrication, and training " -
all while reflecting its unique setting in Honolulu.
While the design team was challenged to fit the
technical systems and equipment in a mobile van,
while also powering all the systems in a way that
was still eco-friendly, they strategically planned
out the design scheme to be as environmentally
sustainable as possible. For example, they opted
to forgo a gas-powered generator in favor of five
100-watt solar panels.
" We designed this project for a Hawaiian vibe.
While it does not blend with the natural lush
mountainscapes of the Islands, it does merge
well with the urban environment of Honolulu, "
Collier offers.
As evidenced by these projects, in Honolulu local
style and " the spirit of aloha " go hand in hand.
" In Hawaiian culture, the needs of all are more
important than the needs of one, " according to
Philpotts' Kiggins. Similarly, Brown adds, " For us
at WATG, good design-whether small or large
scale-benefits everyone; great design will make it
better and more efficient. "
DANINE ALATI
is a freelance writer and editor with a focus
on lifestyle and design content. Her work
has appeared in Architectural Digest's online
vertical AD PRO, DuJour magazine, Galerie
magazine, Contract magazine, and Home
Design & Decor, among other outlets.
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