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For years, researchers at the Hawaiʻi Undersea Research Laboratory have utilized its facility to test deep sea equipment. The buildings, while still functional, require remodeling and adaptation. The design approach of the Kauhulu Research Community Center stemmed from the need to find new solutions for today's environmental concerns through retelling stories of old Hawaiʻi. The ancient Hawaiians had a deep connection with the natural environment and prospered through this understanding of the land. Kauhulu translates to ‘Gathering of fish in schools near the surface of the sea’ in Hawaiian. Our hope is to utilize the natural environment to expand the knowledge of the ocean to the community and future generations of Waimānalo.
This project begins by improving the existing facilities into healthy and innovative workspaces. The boat hangar used to service deep sea equipment was reimagined by adding a workshop and research office, completely devoid of visual barriers. The new Hōʻiliʻili (Gathering) hangar opens up to large panoramic views of the ocean and showcases their process to the community. This was done through a vertical wooden slat facade and a glass volume for the workshop and office. The newly repurposed hangar enables researchers to carefully handle and transport materials to and from the research building and back into the ocean. The office and workshop also have single point pivot walls to create interchangeable spaces.
In addition to improving the hangar facilities, a coral reef research program was added to the existing deep-sea underwater studies program. Due to various environmental factors, the coral reef ecosystems in Hawaiʻi are being threatened. This cross disciplinary program will be housed in the newly adapted ‘Imi na‘auao (research) building for researchers to collaborate to protect Hawaii’s coral reefs.
The ‘Imi na‘auao research building includes additional work areas, various ocean look-out points, and generous amounts of natural light and ventilation. The form of the new roof extension was inspired by vernacular Hawaiian structures to protect the building from the sun and surf.
Adaptation of the site considers the impact that Hawaiʻi's future generations have on ocean restoration and care. The A’o (Learning) floating schools gives students a glimpse into the responsibility of the researchers and a chance to ‘step outside of the classroom’. This unique hands-on learning experience aims to nurture their growth and promote interest in creating a positive future for the natural environment.
This project intends to challenge the research facility typology. The Kauhulu Research Community Center hopes to become a place of gathering for the neighborhood of Waimānalo. Eliminating car traffic on-site allows for a pedestrian friendly experience. Extensions to the existing pier create carefully designated zones for Pāʻani (Recreation)- fishing, swimming, and play. Through this new public interface, the facility is able to permeate its ocean research and knowledge to all members of the community. The overall approach hopes to create a state-of-the-art facility for researchers, provide learning opportunities for future generations, and increase community interest and involvement in bettering the future of the environment.
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