The Firm

Jul 2013|News from de Reus

Aloha Spirit: Conversation with Mark de Reus


When you visit an island paradise like Hawaii, usually the last thing on your mind is the architecture. After all, who has time to admire post-and-beam construction (or walls for that matter!) when you’re lounging on the sand with a Mai Tai in your hand? No… when you’re on island time, life on the mainland melts away as the overwhelming natural beauty of Hawaiian landscape comes into focus: azure panoramas of the Pacific, swaying palms, emerald valleys, lush rainforests and sweeping volcanic cliffs. Mark de Reus, however, manages to harmonize the two in a way few architects can. He explains: “Finding relevance with the local culture is always a component to our work, and one that will allow the design to feel appropriate to its location.”

PIO: Your firm has designed resorts in Hawaii, Indonesia and Mexico. What would you say is the unifying quality in all of these projects?

MdR: The unifying quality for these projects is that we have allowed circumstance to inform our designs for these locations. Natural settings exert powerful influences on design and our search is always to create a place out of circumstance that feels appropriate, timeless and in harmony with the surroundings. Invariably each design is different because of individual circumstance, overt and subtle, that shape planning and design.

PIO: What inspires you as an architect?

MdR: Clients that appreciate the potential transformational benefits of design are inspirational. Just as significant as the appreciative client, finding inspiration in nature and the land is powerful. Finding relevance with the local culture is always a component within the inspired concept, and one that will allow the design to feel appropriate to its location. The more formal aspects of composition and proportion are important to bringing inspiration into completeness.

PIO: When you look at your design portfolio, which residential project are you most proud of?

MdR: The Ka’upulehu residence, featured in our book, Tropical Experience comes to mind as one I am very proud of and that is close to my heart. Several years before this commission, a client gave me a gift at the completion of his home: touring the ancient temples in Kyoto. The experience was one of my most seminal architectural experiences—right up there with seeing the Borobudur temple in Java or the Ronchamp chapel in France! The Ka’upulehu home was my first design opportunity finding inspiration from Kyoto and the beautiful and artful ancient temples.

Read the full interview with Mark and Previews Inside Out here.

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