Located on a sheer rock bluff above a well-known surfing spot, this house was designed as a family retreat. Drawing on the concept of a surfing hut, three connected huts—the main sleeping areas, living quarters, and guest suites—follow the topography in a gentle curve. The eighteen-acre site had been neglected and taken over by invasive plant species; an important goal for the project was to heal the site by returning the majority of the landscape to native plants.
The huts’ corrugated metal roofs take their inspiration from traditional Hawaiian roofs (as popularized by the architect C. W. Dickey), which help to naturally ventilate the islands’ indigenous structures. Studies of the site revealed virtually constant winds. Using the Dickey-style roof as a starting point, the design was turbocharged, deliberately shaping roof forms and openings to allow breezes to pull hot air out. The boldness of the roof forms is matched by large operable window walls that are a continuation of Kundig’s previous explorations at projects such as Chicken Point Cabin in northern Idaho (2003). The central hut’s window walls swing up on two sides, allowing the hut to open fully to the landscaped hillside and to the pool and ocean views. The kitchen island defies expectations by extending through this window wall when closed. The large ipe wood decks and screened walkways connecting the huts almost double the home’s livable area.
The materials are low maintenance and virtually fireproof: steel, wood, and rammed earth walls that are a mixture of local soil and concrete. The resulting structure blends in with its surroundings. “I don’t think that I could ever design something as beautiful as what’s already out there,” Kundig says. “We’re here to frame the landscape, to create an experience of that place, and perhaps to bring some of that experience—the intimacy, the vulnerability— inside the house.”