West Oʻahu students imagine military bunkers as community centers at Hawaii Triennial

The Hawaiʻi Triennial Art Exhibit continues to offer new experiences around Oʻahu.

An installation this week in Kapolei takes a fun look at what could be done with a historic site. A group of West Oʻahu youths envision new uses for the area once known as Fort Barrette.

Puʻuokapolei is an ancient cinder cone, the only highest point on the ʻEwa Plain of Oʻahu. It housed a heiau in Hawaiian prehistory, and in 1931 it became the military installation now known as Fort Barrette.

Poster by exhibition organizer Emma Lake, Hawaiʻi Contemporary Fellow and recent graduate of UH West Oʻahu’s Academy for Creative Media

This week, inside Kapolei Hale, you can see ideas for revamping the military site. It includes huge protective bunkers where the military once hid Nike missiles. There are also underground tunnels and galleries.

Kapolei High School student Haley Amphonephong was part of one of the teams showcasing new concepts for the area.

“It was pretty exciting because we had to do so much research for it,” Amphonephong said.

Amphonephong says their goal was to connect the community with moʻolelo, or legends, on Kapolei. They learned that Kapōʻulakinaʻu was the goddess of fertility and the powers of darkness.

They chose to highlight the polarity of the fiery heat of Ewa and the darkness of the goddess.

“We are going to have a statue of Kapo, because she is the goddess of darkness and mystery. The statue is going to be a plant. At a certain angle or when the light hits it, the shadow will be Kapo herself” , she added. noted.

Pu'uokapolei proposal by Kapolei High School students Haley Amphonephong and Jad Gazmen

Haley Amphonephong and Jad Gazmen



Reinventing Pu’uokapolei’s Proposal by Kapolei High School Students Haley Amphonephong and Jad Gazmen

“If you went up there yourself, you could see almost all of Kapolei,” said Jad Gazmen, project partner and senior at Kapolei High.

He says an event space could create a community in Puʻuokapolei, their town’s namesake.

“There would be the plaza with the statue, it could be a nice gathering space. I think it would be really cool if we could host our senior luau on Puʻuokapolei,” Gazmen said.

Facilities, galleries and event spaces are planned inside the bunkers and connecting tunnels. All are potential future triennial sites.

Ulu Aʻe Learning Center, an organization that offers culture-based after-school programs, and DreamHouse ʻEwa Beach, Hawaii’s newest charter school, are well represented in the exhibit at Kapolei Hale near the driver’s license section . It was organized by Emma Lake, a Contemporary Fellow from Hawaii and recent graduate of the Creative Media Academy at UH West O’ahu.

Craft fun stuff at the free Hawaii Triennial “Re-Create Workshops” from noon to 2 p.m. every Saturday in March at Kapolei Commons, near the theaters.

It’s Kailua’s turn for a triennial activation on March 26, 2022. It’s a demonstration of cooking and eating on the pleasures of wild amaranth. The Eating in Public project illuminates edible weeds in unexpected sites around Oʻahu.

Find more public programs presented through the Hawaii Triennial here.
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