Academy of Canoe / Koa

3 mn read

He wa’a he moku, he moku he wa’a,”“the canoe is an island, and the island is a canoe.”


Canoe is an indigenous culture in Hawaii which reflects Hawaiian spirit on how to look at the world in their native perspectives. The native Koa tree are embedded in Hawaii culture as major material sources. Furthermore, the Hawaiian community base land division called Ahupua’a accelerated canoe to be rooted in Hawaii successfully.

The academy of Koa recreation seeks fully understanding of the traditional canoe making process and focusing on the recreation of Koa tree. The academy provides a learning center and specialized laboratories to preserve the traditional way such as exploring the tradition and modernizing it to overcome the obsolescence of Koa Canoe.

Recreation aspect

In designing the building, the academy keeps the Hawaiian way of dwelling: dwell with and within nature. So, the building accepts the environment, and environment could grow with the building. The first scene at the entrance offers a panoramic view of a series of Koa tree forests that follow the slopes of the mountain. The forests are situated according to their lifecycle, the deeper, the older the trees are.

Climate aspect

The buildings are positioned in spaces rendered in-between the forests, and the columns are located not in regular distance and height, so that it makes the building look like a forest. Since Hawaii has a temperate climate without strong wind or humidity, we decide to use curtains as enclose envelope for the minimum zoning and privacy. The shape of roof is made for taking the breeze from the hilly topography, and the opening underneath the roof is for the cross ventilation not to block the wind flows.

Structure Aspect

The wood canoe production requires a smoking and soaking process for the strength and tensibility, and the leftover such as ashes or particles acts as a great natural fertilizer for Koa trees. As result, both canoe and Koa tree develop a strong reliance to each other and form a sustainable regenerative cycle. Meanwhile, canoe construction and Koa tree planting also are positioned as a circulation of the building, encouraging people to understand the interrelated process.

Project credits

Instructor: Dominic Leong, Christopher Leong, Sean Connelly
Team: Timlok Li, Jihae Park

One thought on

Academy of Canoe / Koa

  • Kayleigh

    Love the thoughts on the local climate and wind analysis.

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