UH architecture students win national award for imagining a greener Kalihi

UH architecture students win national award for imagining a greener Kalihi
This rendering of an outdoor community space in Kalihi was created by UH architecture students.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two University of Hawaii architecture students are celebrating Tuesday after winning a national award for a project that focused on incorporating more agricultural activity in Kalihi.

Khoa Nguyen and Valerie Nica Ribao’s project, “Oahu Ahupua’a: Connecting Land, Water and People,” won in the agricultural urbanism category of the annual Designing Healthy Places competition. They were awarded a $1,250 prize by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Khoa Nguyen and Valerie Nica Ribao's project "Oahu Ahupuaa: Connecting Land, Water and People" was a winner in the national Designing Healthy Places competition.
Khoa Nguyen and Valerie Nica Ribao's project "Oahu Ahupuaa: Connecting Land, Water and People" was a winner in the national Designing Healthy Places competition. (University of Hawaii)

The project was selected as one of five winners out of 169 entries, and it re-imagines implementing the traditional Hawaiian practice of ahupua’a in the 21st century.

It focused on converting industrial structures into a farmers' market and greenhouse to support local products grown in the mountains. The greenhouse would provide supplies and seedlings to farmers, while an aquaponics system would be placed in the stream to clean the water before it reaches the ocean.

Nguyen says the Kalihi ahupua’a has “fallen into disrepair,” is littered with rubbish and is overgrown with invasive plants.

“Our design was guided by the Hawaiian value of malama ʻaina, to care for the land so it, in turn, can sustain life for ourselves and future generations” Nguyen said.

A jury of design and health experts said the project "is going back to cultural definitions of the land and society’s relationship to the land.”

Nguyen and Ribao are doctor of architecture candidates and work at the UH Community Design Center.

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