Philippine’s Sustainable Lifestyle Demonstrated by Bahay Kubo House

THE bahay kubo, or nipa hut, is popular among children it being a topic of a children’s song that enumerates a number of local vegetables planted around the house.

However, the bahay kubo as a house is becoming endangered, even in rural areas. It is now being replaced by concrete house, possibly a manifestation of the improving economic status of the people.

But to architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, the bahay kubo concept is very much alive.

To this bahay kubo advocate, its concept and going environmental go hand in hand. He has been consistently adopting it in his projects owing to its suitability to the Philippine situation.

Mañosa strongly believes the iconic bahay kubo is still a relevant element in Philippine architecture as manifested by the growing number of Filipinos who are becoming more aware of the importance of a sustainable lifestyle.

Dino Mañosa, the architect’s eldest son and the chief executive officer of Mañosa and Co., is carrying the torch, so to speak, in promoting the bahay kubo and Philippine architecture as well.

The young Mañosa recalls that he received a lot of informal lectures from his father on the importance of Filipino-inspired design, stressing that foreign designs would not work in the country because the local situation has a different environment.

More important, he said his father believes that an architect must also factor in the cultural element in the design to ensure that the Filipino identity would stand out.

Dino, his brother Gelo and sister Bambi are blending their father’s advocacy with modern technologies to build earth-friendly and climate-adaptable homes.

“Our distinct architectural design is strongly inspired by the Filipino house—the bahay kubo. There is no doubt that the best way to bring that legacy alive and to reinforce our commitment to our craft is to build an actual livable home,” Dino told the BusinessMirror.

The bahay kubo has withstood the test of time as it has been around even before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers.

For instance, the stilts are designed to prevent the floodwaters from entering the house. The high-pitch roof allows the hot air during the summer season to dissipate with the indigenous materials. During the rainy season, the same roof acts a deflector of rain. To ensure a cool atmosphere, large windows allow a cross ventilation.

In adapting the bahay kubo concept, Dino said their typical project would have the pitched roof, and deep overhangs and sunshades to protect the façade from rain and solar heat. They also have wide windows, big space at the center of the house for passive cooling, cross-ventilation and light paths to penetrate the living space.

Moreover, the Mañosas also integrate the elements of Philippine culture, such as the Maranaw-inspired roofs as seen in some of their past projects.

Dino said they always use indigenous materials, such as bamboo and woven mat, for ceilings. Araal and adobe stones are used in walls to lower the carbon footprint and soften the aesthetics value of the home.

He said they always aim to make their projects 70-percent to 80-percent green through the organic route. They factor in the wind directions and sun paths, which serve as the basis for the placements and sizes of doors, windows and walls.

“The remaining 20 percent to 30 [percent] is where technology, such as solar panels and turbines, comes in,” Dino said.

The introduction of the Philippine Green Building Council’s Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence Certification has reinforced the status of the Mañosa projects as truly green.

“Our developments are innovative in many aspects and emanates from our guiding vision that is Filipino architecture, as well as the integration of green features which embodies the philosophy on sustainability,” Dino said.

Among the projects designed by the elder Mañosa were the Coconut Palace, San Miguel building, Edsa Shrine, Ateneo Professional Law School at Rockwell Center in Makati City, Pearl Farm Resort in Davao, Amanpulo Resort in Palawan and Mactan Shangri-La Hotel in Cebu.

His outstanding designs also include the two altars—made of bamboo and indigenous materials—used in the public Masses of Pope John Paul II during his visit in Manila from January 12 to 16, 1994. The same with the altar used for the beatification of Filipino martyr Saint Lorenzo Ruiz during the pope’s first Manila visit in 1981.

Dino recalled that there were times his father have turned down some projects because he did not want to compromise his design.

In their real-estate project, he said, “We would rather offer few, select units that project our design sensibilities that give us value on the livability. The price may be a bit higher, yes, but we clearly communicate to our buyers that the outline of each house are not meant for an added expense; but an added value on its livability.” Being the bahay kubo champion, the Mañosa patriarch embraced the principle when he built the family residence in Alabang.

“You can find all the vegetables mentioned in the song in my Dad’s home. Instead of the expensive species of fish, he has tilapia in his pond,” Dino said.

When asked to name their favorite projects, the young Mañosa said it is always the next project because it encourages them to innovate, have fun and earn at the same time.

Source: Businessmirror

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