Comfort Stations

Modernist comfort stations

Located at dozens of beaches and parks throughout Oahu, the majority of Hawaii’s “comfort stations” – aka restrooms, changing rooms, toilets etc. – were built during the post war boom years of the 1950s & 60s which gave local architects an opportunity to incorporate the period’s predominantly modernist esthetic into what would otherwise be overlooked utilitarian structures.

Regional materials such as lava rock, koa wood and concrete aggregates were merged with forward-thinking designs that boasted unusual and elevated rooflines, exaggerated overhangs and plenty of space for natural ventilation; in essence creating beautiful little compact tropical modernist pavilions. Okay, so they’re not the Liljestrand House, but these “facilities” can definitely be appreciated on their own level.

In fact, the Dole Playground comfort station by Lemmon, Freeth, Haines & Jones, circa 1962, won a Hawaiian AIA Design Award for architectural excellence.

There’s been talk that some of Hawaii’s many comfort stations (on all the islands) are past their prime and will be torn down, while others may be renovated or refurbished preserving their cultural significance.

In the meantime we’ve listed a few of our Oahu favorites so if you happen to be at one of the following beaches or parks you can get acquainted… corresponding photos are above and you can click the addresses below for Google map locations.

Maunalua Bay Beach Park (6505 Kalanianaole Hwy, Hawaii Kai) – by Belt Collins, 1970

Kualoa Regional Park (49-479 Kamehameha Hwy.) – by James Sato, 1973

Wailupe Beach Park (5045 Kalanianaole Hwy.) – by Fred Fujioka, 1968

Swanzy Beach Park (Kamehameha Hwy., Ka’a’awa) – by Hogan & Chapman, 1959

Kuliouou Beach Park (96 Bay St, Hawaii Kai) – architect unknown, 1952

Punalu’u Beach Park (53-356 Kamehameha Hwy, Punalu’u) – by Richard Iwanaga, 1968

Waialae Beach Park (4925 Kahala Ave.) – by Shoso Kagawa, 1965

Makapu’u Beach Park (Kalanianaole Hwy.) – by Richard Dennis, 1951

Makiki District Park (Makiki St. at Wilder Ave.) – architect unknown, 1965

Kahana Bay (Kamehameha Hwy. at Kahana Valley Rd., Ka’a’awa) – by Robert Law, 1964

This is but a sampling of Oahu’s many modernist comfort stations, we’ll be adding more after our next visit to the islands!

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