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West Hawaii Explorations Academy Public Charter School

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

The West Hawaii Explorations Academy (WHEA) is an innovative public school in Hawaii serving 6th through 12th grades. Teachers guide students to learn all required subjects through the execution of real world science projects. Their facilities included a shark tank, a coral reef tank, science labs, green house and planting area, geodesic dome, and an electric car garage. Hayashida Architects was asked to help them plan a new net zero campus which would embody their motto “No Child Left Indoors”. Through a series of collaborative meetings with faculty staff, students, and the school board administrators, Hayashida Architects put together a comprehensive program to prioritize their goals, define their limitations, and to help project a working budget and timeline. From this program, a master plan was created. Classrooms were designed to be open air rooms defined by fabric shade roofs. Vegetated roofs and photovoltaic panels would cover the enclosed structures. A rainwater cistern collection and condensation system would provide fresh water while a deep sea water pipe over a mile long would provide water for the many live animal tanks. Composting and incinerating toilets were introduced to decrease the cost of adding infrastructure to a site made of lava rock and underground tunnels. Throughout the campus, the facilities are sited to visually integrate the buildings into the hillside while taking advantage of the earth’s cooling properties, and minimizing the effects of the intense offshore winds year round.