Assembly House

Assembly House

ZAK Architecture
Kona, Hawaii, USA | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Matthew Millman

Assembly House

ZAK Architecture as Architects

Bordering a state park on the Kona Coast, the house is designed as variations on a theme: assembly.  The owners wanted the house to encourage interaction while maintaining privacy.  This was accomplished by taking the Hawaiian building vernacular of pavilions and dividing the program into public and private spaces.  The public pavilions (living/dining/kitchen, media, outdoor dining, garage, guest living/dining/kitchen, and tennis) are gathering places, while the private pavilions (master, children’s, guest, offices, and spa) serve as retreats.  Each pavilion, whether public or private, incorporates into its construction the public/private language created to deal with the scope of the project.


The assemblage of pavilions on the site defines the garden spaces, creating additional public gathering areas and secluded sanctuaries.  Each building is deliberately placed within the site to achieve a dialogue with the garden.  A dialogue furthered by several pavilions functioning as gateways between different areas; for instance, the family pavilion serves a threshold between the ordered entry and the organic guest gardens.   Opening the buildings also grounds them in their specific Hawaiian environment by allowing in breeze, view, and light.  The interior bathroom enclosures open onto exterior shower gardens, blurring the division between the indoor and outdoor space. 


The layers of assembly continue with the individual pavilions.  Due to the large scope of the project, rules were created, and then manipulated to address each specific condition of the site and program.    This allowed for focus on how the buildings are constructed, and while there is a repetitive structural language, the buildings vary within the theme by type.  Creating a ‘kit of parts’ that can be arranged according to the owner’s specified needs of each space unifies the pavilions into one home. The major elements consist of structure and skin, represented in two forms: stone and wood.  The stone wall construction combines the structure and skin into one. The wood walls separate the structure from the skin, with the supportive elements, columns, expressed on the exterior. The wood skin is divided into fixed and moveable panels. Each set of panels are a subsequent kit of parts: temperature and moisture control (glass), sunlight and privacy (wooden louvers), and pest control (screen).  

These divisions within the uniformly-roofed pavilions allowed for play with the arrangement of the parts.  The stone and wood segments used to create public versus private areas within each pavilion, invert based on the pavilion’s function.The idea of assembly as part of the construction is additionally emphasized by using alternate materials to delineate the buildings ‘appendages,’ like stairs and bridges, allowing the pavilions to maintain an idealized rectangle.


All the layers of assembly come together to form and strengthen the whole.  As the pavilions assemble on the site to form a house, the kit of parts assembles to form each pavilion, all giving the project its moniker: Assembly House.

Material Used :

1. Western Red Cedar cladding

2. Diamond shaped teak wood shingles

3. Copper gutters

4. Basalt Stone floors

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Project Credits
Museum Of Contemporary Art Helga De Alvear
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