Hawaiʻi is a significant experiment in that (the) hybridization of cultures which will perhaps mark the future development of human society: it is a miniature experimental station.
—Lewis Mumford, Whither Honolulu? (1938)

i ka wā mamua (the future is the past)
—Native Hawaiian saying defined by Mary Kawena Pukui (1895-1986)

This studio explores architecture’s ability to play a critical role in shaping the collective and individual spaces in our cities. Honolulu is the laboratory for our studio. Belying an image of paradise, Hawai’i is a crucible of global issues: climate change, systemic social inequity, and a contested cultural and political history. However, to look forward we must look to the past. We reexamine native Hawaiian beliefs in the spiritual interconnectedness of the land, sea, and sky— learning from the ahupua’a, a watershed based system of land and community governance that spans from the highest mountain crest to the ocean shoreline. Our site is located at the low-lying area of the historic Kapālama watershed with frontage along its namesake inland waterway, the Kapālama Canal.

The studio’s intervention is at the building scale. Our starting point is a Kenzo Tange building (b.1972), which is now vacant. Students will speculate about ways of re-inhabiting this Brutalist building, balancing existing concrete with mass timber as the primary building material for new interventions. Students are asked to add much needed workforce and affordable housing, resulting in a new urban ensemble. Speculative studio proposals for an innovative mixed-use building will project a framework for public life and a new future for this underserved immigrant community in Honolulu. The lessons learned from Hawaiʻi has the potential to shape many other global cities.

Studio Structure

Initial research, site analysis and case studies will be undertaken in groups. Students will work together to prepare a complete set of measured drawings of Kenzo Tange’s Hawaii Hochi building. The final design project for this studio will be individual work.

Honolulu Field Trip

The studio will travel to Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Students will stay at the East-West Center, a State Department funded NGO which fosters relations between the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific Region. The EWC complex (b.1964) was designed by IM Pei and is located adjacent to the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa campus. Its residences are an innovative example of tropical modern social housing. Students will be immersed in the rich cultural and urban fabric of Honolulu during our field trip. Seminars and meetings with key stakeholders have been organized. We will also tour the island of Oʻahu, providing a broader understanding of the diverse topography and culture of the island.

Studio Faculty

Brigitte Shim, Principal of Toronto-based Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, will lead the Advanced Studio and will travel to New Haven to meet with our students on a weekly basis. Dean Sakamoto, MED ’98, former YSoA faculty (1998-2011) and Principal of Honolulu-based DSA/SHADE, is the author of Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff (Yale University Press). Dean will direct the Honolulu Field Trip. At Yale, he will join us for the studio kick-off, Midterm and Final Reviews and be available to meet students virtually during the semester. Talitha Liu, M.Arch.’13, is our Teaching Assistant and will be in the studio twice a week. She is co-founder of New York based Soft-Firm. Tal is also from Honolulu and will share her deep understanding of the local context where she is part of a new non-profit started by young Hawaiʻi residents advocating for affordable housing.

All Sections and Semesters

Fall 2023
Designing Delivery
Kim Holden, Emily Abruzzo
Fall 2021
Advanced Design Studio: Climate Caravan
Heather Roberge, Daisy Ames
Fall 2020
Advanced Design Studio: Not Forever
Kevin Carmody, Andy Groarke, Gavin Hogben