The Firm

Jul 2012|News from de Reus

Cocotraie Magazine features Tropical Craftsman Home


The intimate entry sequence to the Tropical Craftsman Residence on the Kohala Coast, through a walkway lined with palms, hardly prepares visitors for a house that sprawls over a large property sited between the ocean and the restored royal lagoon. Planning the house as independent pavilions, Mark, in association with Hart Howerton, conceived it as a village of separate buildings where residents walk through gardens to bedrooms, family rooms, and home offices.The architect posits the out-of-doors as integral to the design, folding the experiential qualities of the site into the way the house is lived in on a daily basis. The floor plan alone turns indoor / outdoor theory into practice. This six-bedroom residence was carefully positioned to capture views of the surf break and Uluweuweu Bay, the tenth hole, anchialine ponds, and the wraparound park-like settings, the home also provides generously apportioned areas for gardens between buildings.Beginning with the well-shaded circular stone-cobbled motor court, we move to the understated stone entry inspired by the split temple gateways of Bali. From here, we arrive at a small water court en route to the garden walk leading to the open-air pavilion of the main hale. The family room, office, and guest hales are accessed from this tropical garden pathway.

The architectural massing and composition of the main hale arrange the main gathering areas large outdoor lanai, office, and master bedroom suite under a dominant roof form; subordinate roof forms enshroud the other spaces, which include the entry pavilion and entry vestibule. Recreation areas, a wine cellar, and laundry facilities are in the basement. The proportions and detailing of the home grew out of the need to harmonize with the surroundings, eliminate the distinction between interior and exterior, frame the views, and utilize natural materials.

Complemented by a considerable amount of natural light filtering into the interior, the house enjoys an atmosphere of luxuriousness that emerges from the use of a variety of beautiful hardwoods such as red gum, teak, anigre, and wenge. Curved architectural hardwood bents supporting beams are one of the signature details of the home and work doubly to frame the tropical views and help conceal the pocket doors.

Architectural reflecting pools wrap around the main hale, adding drama to the bronze entry sculpture and the dining pavilion with a floating effect. The interior designer, Jeff Werner, incorporated the owner’s artwork with furnishings that compliment the Arts and Craft character, bringing the home’s vision to completeness.

Frequently, houses conceived and built for tropical climates are relaxed in the detail because the forgiving character of the weather tolerates approximate architectural fits. Mark, however, started his career in building as a craftsman. He worked in the trades, masonry, framing and finished carpentry, before entering architecture school, and the experience shaped his sensibility.

He thinks about how buildings are put together as he designs; his drawings are informed by firsthand building practice. “The details are crafted in the drawings. We are old school in the way we draw large-scale details and ones that can be built,” he says, meaning that he understands the opportunities and limitations of the construction techniques and materials.

Although the objective of a house like the Tropical Craftsman Residence is to give sophisticated people a dwelling that cultivates a simple and elegant way of life, the simplicity is achieved through skill applied to a vision. Mark designed it with a very high level of craftsmanship, from the stone detailing to the Southeast Asian-inspired stepped doorway headers. The dominant impression may be Mark’s sheltering roofs, but he takes the house down to thoughtful details, some of which engage the site: stone coursing in bathrooms pick up colours outside.

The Tropical Craftsman Residence is a tour de force, from structure to cabinetry.


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