October 2, 2014

University of Hawai`i Palamanui Campus

Location:  Keahole, Hawai`i

Client:  University of Hawai`i


The design concept for this campus was to improve upon the existing landscape by creating a multi-functioning space that focused on cultural and environmental preservation and to achieve LEED platinum certification.

The new design improves upon both the efficiency and aesthetics of the landscape by utilizing the existing native and adaptive tree, shrub, and groundcover plantings, creating shelter for visitors, decreasing and capturing stormwater runoff, reducing the reliance on limited potable water resources, minimizing waste water disposal by recycling it for landscape irrigation, helping to recharge the area’s ground aquifer while still lessening maintenance costs. A xeriscape landscape was created by using renaturalized lava rock throughout the site not only to reduce irrigation water requirements, provide ecological functions for native habitat, but also to create a cohesive landscape that would blend seamlessly with the surrounding lava fields.  Amongst larger stones, on-site lava materials and native flora were restored and reused as groundcover.  Staying true to the design concept, a reclaimed water drip irrigation system is also incorporated to minimize the usage of potable water by utilizing an R-3 source, which is non-disinfected recycled water, coming from the on-site wastewater treatment facility.

Ensuring a connection to Hawai’i’s diverse heritage and culture, Ki Concepts created a modern interpretation of a “marae”, a traditional gathering space for the Maori of Aotearoa, also known as New Zealand.  The UH West Hawaii Campus entry courtyard derives its inspiration from the Marae and other traditional Polynesian community gathering spaces. It serves as the campus gateway and is the symbolic and physical space for welcoming not only visitors, but  students, faculty, and support staff. As an outdoor gathering space it may be used for campus assemblies, special events, and impromptu student performances. It is also a circulation space that allows for more passive activities at its edges such as,  small group meetings, a rest area between classes or a place to meet up with friends and classmates. The form of the Marae is inspired by the Hawaiian symbol for ‘Piko’, the center, and also for the Kona sun. The radiating rays of the sun form the paths linking the campus facilities to its center. The organic, fluid quality of the paths surrounded by undulating lava rock mounds, planted with native plant species, also memorializes the lava flow which created the natural landscape in which this campus sits.