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Clifftop House in Maui by dekleva gregoric arhitekti
October 25th, 2013 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: dekleva gregoric arhitekti
the site and the owners
Maui south coast is gentle and works for indulging all-inclusive holidays, whereas its north coast is a rough surfer’s paradise with strong winds and most important perfect waves. Windsurf sail designer Robert Stroj moves from Europe to Maui to lead the design research studio of Neil Pryde in Kahului, Maui.
While exploring the island with his wife, they soon fell in love with the area of West Maui Mountains on the north coast; very unpopulated area with high cliffs at the cost, fresh onshore breeze and undisrupted view to the ocean. After finding the perfect spot it took them three years to buy the land and several more to finish the house.
Now they live there with their two sons and a dog. The home in such an environment becomes crucially important. Besides being just a home, this house works also as a social venue for the owners. The evening events are culinary blasts, where every guest realizes that cooking is not just necessity but more an obsession. Therefore the kitchen and the dining form the centre of the house.
the conditions and the response
Perfect ocean view, beautiful cliffs, strong winds and unspoiled rough landscape. Is there any space for a house? It was a very unusual task for us European architects usually dealing with quite dense urban environment. It was hard to understand before its first visit and easy to respond after some days spent there.
The concept defines several ’houses’ under a common roof. Each separate ‘mini house’ is an U-shaped volume in order to open up and frame the perfect ocean view. The houses are self contained private units combining bedroom and bathroom as en-suite double room. A fluid public space between enclosed private volumes serves for cooking, eating, lounging.
The ensured privacy within the separate houses allows for a home without hallways and furthermore for a continuous social and typological change: four-person family home can be easily transformed into a mini hotel for 3 couples or 3 families with small children. The spatial concept even allowed the transformation of both ‘service houses’ into a workspace: the garage into a sail loft – workshop for sail prototypes and the utility into Robert’s ocean view design studio.
The roof concept is strongly related to the rough climate with plenty of sun and strong ocean winds. The area of the roof is twice the size of the house, so the size of the covered outdoor space equals the size of the indoor space. The house needs no air-conditioning, since it is cross ventilated throughout. The folded roof is carefully attached to the walls of U-shaped volumes and defines specific spaces. It also serves as a folded wooden deck for contemplating, playing or releasing the radio controlled flying wings, with the aim to materially and topologically integrate the house with the landscape.
the low-tech ecology and local materials
The local materials are used for the finishing of the house. The walls are rendered with the specific plaster using beach sand inside and outside and furthermore emphasize the smooth indoor-outdoor relationship. The same IPE wood is used for the floor, terrace, ceiling and even the roof. On the other hand the house is for US standards atypically constructed out of concrete blocks, which just reflects the European origin of the owner.
We like to believe the architecture is done on-site with a strong control of the construction process. Here we were not able to visit the site while in process as often as we would want to, but all the essential supervision and site-coordination work was extremely carefully done by the owner – an industrial designer mind who was always in touch online. The owners’ true passion for this house was stretched to the level that the last seven years they largely helped with most of the physical work from roof cladding to stucco or furniture. Within this extensive process they have already build a long-lasting relationship with this house, now their home.
dekleva gregorič arhitekti was set up by Aljoša Dekleva and Tina Gregorič in 2003 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. They both graduated at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and continued studying at the Architectural Association in London, where they received Master degree in Architecture with Distinction in 2002. They are co-authors of the book on mass-customisation and responsive environments in collective housing Negotiate my boundary! that received intense professional attention and was published by Architectural Association Publications, London and re-issued by Birkhauser, Basel.
The work of dekleva gregorič arhitekti first received international attention with XXS house and was awarded Silver Plate, European Architecture Award Luigi Cosenza in 2004 and WALLPAPER* award, Best breakthrough designers in 2005. In 2009 Metal recycling plant ODPAD was nominated and shortlisted for Mies van den Rohe Award 2009, was awarded International Architecture Awards 2009 and Plečnik’s Medal prize in Slovenia among others. In 2009 they have also won international award 40 under 40 award from the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. In 2012 the Clifftop house on Maui received the 2nd place in AIT award in Luxury Living category and International Architecture Awards 2012.
This year the office was selected in a Highly Commended group of practices for 21 for 21 WAN AWARDS 2012 – searching for “the 21 architects for the 21st century. The initiative aims to highlight 21 architects who could be the leading lights of architecture in the 21stcentury; outstanding, forward-thinking people and organisations who have the demonstrable potential to be the next big thing in the architectural world.
dekleva gregorič arhitekti understand design as research on several modes (spatial, social, material, historical…) and response to specific constrains and conditions. They are aiming to challenge the obvious, to provoke new spatial experiences for users, to stimulate social interactions among them and to integrate the customization within the design process. Beside the conceptual approach to intense structuring of space they are aiming to challenge the use of materials and exposing their primary natures.
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