JUST NORTH OF KONA, ON THE DRY, LEEWARD SIDE OF THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII, one can drive for miles on the main highway that cuts through craggy lava fields and never see a single person. It is this lonely and seemingly uninhabitable
landscape, created by the volcanoes that rise in the distance, that sets the scene
for a new house architect Shay Zak and designer Barbara Barry designed for a family in
the seaside Kukio enclave. “It was important that the materials did not fight the black
and gray lava fields, but offer a continuation of the land through the house, emphasizing
an indoor-outdoor connection,” Zak says. Barry pulled the colors of the lava and other
natural elements further into the interiors. “I fell in love with the bedrock of lava on
which the house was built, the undulating mounds of honed brown-black punctuated
by tufts of lime-green grass set against the ever-changing blue to pink sky,” she says.
The natural world not only served as inspiration, but was an integral part of the
house’s construction. Zak is known for wrapping clusters of pavilions around a central
courtyard lined with spongey seashore paspalum grass. Here, that courtyard, flanked
by bedroom pavilions on both sides, leads to a lanai, the open great room, then a
second, oceanside lanai. Another swath of grass serves as a buffer between the lanai
and the infinity pool, which looks out over more lava fields and the ocean beyond.
“Our work is about moving along a spatial sequence,” Zak says.