In August the museum’s new parking attendant booth opened for operation in the lot behind the art school on Victoria Street, emitting a colorful glow at night. Designed by Bundit Kanisthakhon and Kirk Malanchuk of Honolulu-based Tadpole Studio, the contemporary structure—built for just $10,000 from reclaimed bed frames and plywood—is now one of three finalists for the Dwell Vision Award, which recognizes excellence in modern design. Bundit will attend the awards ceremony in New York City on Nov. 7, when the winner will be announced. (Kirk just started his first semester at the University of Washington, where he is getting his M.Arch.)
“I never thought that Dwell would consider such a small project, much less pick us as a finalist,” says Bundit. “We put a lot of thought into the project, and we just wanted to send it in—we didn’t expect to get this far! We’re pretty happy. We’re grateful for the opportunities and the support that the museum has given to us.”
A year in the making, the structure embodies artistic collaboration and community involvement and serves as a model for the re-use of materials on an island with finite resources. The booth replaces a prefabricated corrugated-plastic shed that was an unsightly first impression for visitors arriving by vehicle, and inhospitably hot for the lot attendant. As part of an ongoing project to improve its visitor experience, the museum approached Tadpole Studio about designing a new structure.
Bundit and Kirk don’t describe their work in buzzwords such as “green” or “sustainable.” Using abundant materials that are locally available just makes sense to theduo and they welcomed the chance to create a design that could be built by, and for, the community. From concept through completion, building the booth was a community collaboration and exercise in using local materials and talents.
Castoffs—from three-legged chairs to discarded water bottles—inspire Bundit and Kirk’s ideas, and they had long noticed that “bulky item pick-up day” in Honolulu often results in a glut of metal bed frames. A lightbulb went off and they decided to use them as the starting point in designing the parking attendant booth.
The museum and Tadpole Studio put out a call for metal bed frame donations and collected them from Honolulu’s curbsides. The salvaged plywood is left over from a military project at Schofield Barracks. Local artist Bill Reardon provided his welding skills in fabricating the booth. Eric Nagano oversaw the concrete work and Mark Ariyoshi, Hyun Cho and Thorben Wuttke supplied woodworking skills. Clayton Pang and Robert Billingsly helped with engineering and lighting design. Museum staff painted the booth.
The resulting structure represents Tadpole Studio’s design philosophy: simple and approachable. The 12-foot-high roof is raised above the booth to block out the sun’s heat and the space below the roof is designed to be a lantern, providing light at night for the parking lot and also serve as a beacon for museum visitors. In addition, the booth offers signage for the museum to promote events and exhibitions, and serves as an information booth.
Bundit and Kirk like to describe art as a vehicle, which is appropriate as their design masquerading as a parking attendant booth is a model of combining sustainability with design, function with art and then putting the whole package to work.
Tadpole Studio is now working on the museum’s Surface Gallery at Spalding House, where Bundit is installing storage space and modular pieces that can be used as furniture and pedestals for work by Orvis Artists in Residence.