For several centuries, the Philippine’s traditional bahay kubo has been the quintessential architecture that is wholly built and adapted to the tropical climate of the country. It is not only practical but it’s the best example of green architecture even before the phrase became a modern buzzword. Large windows to let in more light and make it airy. Steeply pitched roof for better interior ventilation and let rain water cascade fast during the wet season. And as far as the building materials are concerned, these are naturally abundant and readily available.
The introduction of newer building techniques at the start of the colonization in the 16th century, like the use of stone, to the availability of building materials like cement introduced in the early 19th century to present green products has led to the evolution of the traditional nipa hut. From bahay kubo to bahay an bato to neovernacular/modern Filipino architecture that has been espoused by National Artist for Architecture Francisco Mañosa, other contemporary architects and, developers, green and proudly Pinoy Architecture is alive and well in today’s Philippines.
Advocating Green Architecture and Modern Filipino Design
DST Development Corporation, is a family business in the real estate industry started in 2004 and currently led by its President, Dryan Suiza Tria. Although he earned a Journalism degree in college, he has taken the road less traveled. Thru his lifelong experience and strong determination, he has been leading the firm to success in the field of Real Estate/Development Architecture+Design. His exposure to the works of world-renowned architects, artists and designers has truly enriched his expertise. Designing and building homes and structures, the firm is advocating green architecture as well as modern Filipino design. Here’s a look at two of their projects that highlight these two advocacies.
Villa Project in San Mateo
Estancia de Lorenzo is an upcoming farm resort and events venue in San Mateo, Rizal with a total area of 20+ hectares. While still in development, most of the two-story family villas are already finished and in fact, been hosting guests. The villas are mostly clustered, airconditioned and each surrounded with its own garden. Although a modern design, one can’t help but associate it as a modern bahay kubo.
One can readily notice the sawali design cladding of the exterior wall that is commonly seen in nipa huts, giving it a homey and provincial feel that readily fits the farm concept.
Instead of the steeply pitched roofing, a single sloping roof with extended eaves give it a modern touch. Rain water that slides down goes to a water catchment system that are transported to the reservoir thru PVC pipes painted to look like natural bamboos running at the back. Repurposed PVC pipes, cut, sliced and painted have a second life as exterior lamps installed at the corners. Solar panels either at the back or sides are used for water heating. On a minor note, the second-floor balcony echoes the enclosed voladas and as double eaves of the bahay-na-bato of old.
There are several windows and sliding doors at each level, that, when opened, provides good cross ventilation inside. The interior is minimalist but one thing that the developer is proud of is that it is replete with Filipino craft and creativity. Capiz shells hang as chandeliers from a ceiling with woven split bamboo design. Mother of pearl, coconut husk, abaca twine and hardwood make for interesting materials that make up the modern Filipino furniture design as well as decors and accents. At the second floor, the space made by the inclined roofing is sealed but lets in plenty of light.
The Tria Residence
Just a kilometer or two from Estancia de Lorenzo, in Timberland Heights, a massive 477-hectare development by Filinvest in the hills of San Mateo, Rizal lies the TriaResidence. Although done in an unconventional design, it is still inspired and pushes the concept of the bahay kubo to become a good example of green and Modern Filipino Architecture. The hilly area where the residence is constructed offers a great panoramic view of Metro Manila from a distance and lets the owner and his family commune with nature. Far from the urban noise, it is, however, just close enough to Metro Manila, a 15 minute-drive to the Sandiganbayan in Commonwealth Ave. to be exact.
The four-story structure with a pool is built on a steep 70-degree incline within a 378 square meter lot. Dryan Tria, who designed and built the house fully takes advantage of the view, natural lighting and ventilation with several glass windows, sliding doors and curtain walls. It’s light and airy and at any time of the day, the interiors are bright. The house doesn’t follow a block design. In fact, its asymmetrical configuration makes it dynamic and provides design strategies that both surprises and engages.
The Tria Residence is an interesting ‘open’ structure that not only highlights its good ventilation and bright interiors but also its configuration. Although it’s a house with four floors, family members can openly communicate with each other in the communal spaces regardless of floor. Like the villas in Estancia de Lorenzo, the house employs green initiatives like solar panels and water reuse thru a water catchment and distribution system. Another thing to highlight is it’s being a smart home. The house can be ‘run’ using a voice-controlled program called Alexa which can operate lights and connected devices to being a personal assistant giving reminders on weather, schedules and others. With its motion detectors and CCTV, it can push alert notifications to smartphones if there are break-in attempts.
The bahay kubo, a true green architecture and symbol of the Filipino culture of openness and adaptability continues to inspire generations of Filipino builders and designers till the present. And the villas of Estancia de Lorenzo and Tria Residence by DST Development Corporation attest to this.