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A Unified Landscape: Reconnecting the Ala Wai Watershed to Ancient Waikīkī

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Title:A Unified Landscape: Reconnecting the Ala Wai Watershed to Ancient Waikīkī
Authors:Aglibot, Bea Clare
Contributors:Stilgenbauer, Judith (advisor)
Architecture (department)
Keywords:Ala Wai
stream restoration
show 1 morelandscape identity
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Date Issued:May 2017
Publisher:Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract:A landscape’s inherent characteristics—physical attributes, human activity, collective memory, and enduring symbols and lasting meanings––give it an identity. The landscape’s identity is the uniqueness of a place. Water is sacred to the native Hawaiians. Water is said to “flow from the upland forests, down through the ahupua‘a, where it passes from the wao akua, the realm of the gods, to the wao kanaka, the realm of the man to sustain human life.” In Hawaii, water sculpts the landscape. In turn, the landscape sculpted the ancient Hawaiian culture and society. The Hawaiians structured their society to be in-sync with their natural environment because they understood that dependency on their surroundings. No one owned land in ancient Hawai‘i because they believed it all belonged to the gods. God’s land was sacred and was thus treated with respect. Reverence for the natural landscape created a commensalistic relationship between the natural environment and the human society.

However, with the arrival of Westerners in the late 1700s, the identity of the Hawaiian landscape changed. The foreigners introduced a false dichotomy between the built and natural environment and caused a shift in culture from a commensalistic mutuality with nature to a parasitic association with nature. The post-contact Hawaiian society eventually drifted away from the natural environment that their culture was initially based in. Now, the society sculpts the landscape themselves, cutting the land into pieces of marketable goods and controlling the water through hydromodification.

The landscape shifted from being wholly ko mau akua ʻāina (god’s land) to fragmented pieces of real property. It is important to bridge the disconnect between culture and nature by addressing the components of a landscape’s identity: the physical, the social, and the symbolic. How can the inherent characteristics of the ancient ahupuaʻa inform design interventions for Hawai‘i’s current water infrastructure so that it strengthens the landscape identity, reconnects the urban to the natural, and mitigates hydromodification?
Pages/Duration:222 pages
Appears in Collections: 2017

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