Lavaflow 7 Residence, Big Island, Hawaii by Craig Steely Architecture

About the Architecture

Located on five acres of dense Ohia forest, this cast-in-place concrete house (Lavaflow 7) frames indoor and outdoor living spaces along with views of the forest, the sky, and the coastline. It continues our exploration of a reductive architecture that enhances the experience of living in this compelling environment.

The main feature of the house is a concrete beam, 140 foot long, 48 inch tall x 12 inch wide running the length of the building with only three short concrete walls supporting it along its massive span. The concrete beam allows for sizable spans of uninterrupted glass and covered outdoor space, creating a permeable edge between the man-made and nature, amplify the sensation of living in the Ohia forest.

About the Architect

Craig Steely Architecture is a San Francisco and Hawaii based Architect. He received his Architecture degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While there, he was awarded a scholarship for international study and spent his thesis year in Florence, Italy studying with Cristiano Toraldo di Francia formerly of SUPERSTUDIO. After returning to California, he opened his architecture studio in 1995.  Craig has been a guest lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley and at Cal Poly and at many conferences including the Monterey Design Conference. His work has been awarded recognition by the American Institute of Architects and published widely in books and periodicals, among them DwellSunset,Architectural Record, California Home and Design, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times. In 2009 he was selected as an “Emerging Talent” by the AIA California Council.  Click here for more information about Craig Steely.

Lava Flow 01

Photo Credit: Craig Steely Architecture

Photo Credit: Craig Steely Architecture

Photo Credit: Craig Steely Architecture

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Written by David Cohn

Francisco “Patxi” Mangado, the 54-year-old Spanish architect, compares his bronze-clad Archaeological Museum of Álava in Vitoria, Spain, to a “coffer guarding a treasure.” He has developed this apparently simple conceit at a number of different levels in the work, so that it acquires a sensual resonance that reaches beyond words to convey his poetic intent.

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The architect uses the contrast between the building’s bronze and glass skin and its setting within Vitoria’s medieval core to further develop his evocation of archaeological layering. A quiet city of 230,000, Vitoria is the capital of the Basque region, with a rich history dating back to the sixth century AD. The museum, a mixed concrete-and-steel-frame structure, is part of an ongoing effort by local authorities to rehabilitate the medieval center, which has been in decline through most of the 20th century. Located on one of its livelier streets lined with bars, old shops, and a few monumental buildings, the museum adjoins the 16th-century Bendaña Palace. In 1994 the palace was renovated to house the Fournier Museum of Playing Cards as the town’s homage to a well-known local industry. The two museums now share a common entry court.

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Order, Formulas, and Rules

by Frank Cunha III

It seems like when you finally get it right in Architecture, Art, Music, Fashion, etc, you become a “sellout.”  So what is Right? How can we get it right? Will anyone know the difference?  In the music industry, record companies spend millions studying what kind of music we enjoy.  Recently I heard that they have developed a formula for what makes great music whether we consciously agree or not (they call it “musically satisfying”).  Is it any wonder we get those cheesy songs stuck in our head?  This comes as no surprise in a technologically advanced and transformative world.  Could the same be true for Architecture (Architecturally satisfying)?

Like many other Architects, I subscribe to hard copies and digital copies of various Art & Architecture magazines.  It’s fun to see all the new and exciting international projects that have been commissioned.  It’s also frustrating to see that many of the projects follow some sort of formula – It is easy/difficult to put a finger on it but given an opportunity – Budget, Client, Program, couldn’t we too fudge, I mean design something similar?  I remember an old college professor telling us how in his day he had to study / copy the Masters of his day for Architecture School.

I am pretty sure I did not miss class the day they taught the secret formula to creating great Architecture – Which leads me to ask, What is great?  I mean, we all have our opinions on the Masters of our day – Good or Bad.  What I mean to ask is something that delves deeper.  Besides the ability to obtain intellectual clients with extremely high budgets looking for “meaningful” design, how do these high profile Architects / Architecture firms land these clients?  Once they figure out this formula is it a matter of fine-tuning it and repeating it?

Although Architecture is filled with Order & Rules (figuratively and literally) should there be a Formula to producing great works of Architecture?

I would think that a world without figurative Order & Rules of today’s contemporary Architecture (that results in the “Same” different Architecture, the same way someone dyes their hair pink or blue to be different, to be like their friends) would result in a more meaningful, natural world of Architecture filled with unique projects emulating real emotion and artfulness.  When Architecture (or Music for that matter) begins to repeat these figurative patterns it also eliminates the artfulness of the unknown. The mystery of Architecture is not in the mathematics or science of Architecture but in it’s naïve soulfulness.  That is where I believe the true spirit of Architecture resides.


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