Filipino-inspired condo units

Text: Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao, FUAP

CONDOMINIUM buildings have been sprouting almost in every available area within the metropolis. These towering residential enclaves have slowly shaped the skyline of busy cities to answer to the need of more people aspiring to live within convenient reach of their schools and workplaces.

Condominium units are usually compact spaces with readily available bedrooms and kitchen spaces. Oftentimes, these spaces are just empty “enclosures” where it is up to the users how they would partition the space, layout their furniture and stuff and personalize it to fit their needs and lifestyle.

Going through planning and sprucing up a condo space, people could hire architects or interior designers to work with them through the project. But there are those who would just do it by themselves and scrape out ideas from design magazines and websites. Well, there is no harm getting inspiration from the design of other condo units that we admire but most of the time, people tend to incorporate elements into the space that do not really jive with the owner’s lifestyle or the local culture. The worse possibility is to entirely copy and force “alien” designs into the condominium space.

Fitting space design to the Filipino context has always been a challenge for most people who are often “hypnotized” at what they see magazines and lifestyle TV shows. This would end up in spaces that are “copycats,” lacking in character and inefficient in terms of its functions. Today, these architects talk about how condominium spaces here in the Philippines could inject a truly Filipino identity, answer the immediate needs and conforms to the values of its Filipino users.

Carlo Gianni Bustos, FUAP
Principal architect (DesignLAB Architectural Services)

The “sampayan” and “ihawan” are almost always present in a Pinoy home. In addition to that, Filipinos always have a shrine of sorts for their displays of souvenirs, knick-nacks and religious items. Condominium units should therefore evolve into being Filipino-oriented and start quitting the pretense that we are a minimalist bunch. We are never and will we never be that. Developers must start being more generous in the sizes of condos, and STOP giving Filipinos a matchbox of a space.

Pedro Rubia III
M.Arch.-Interior Architecture, architect/faculty member (University of San Carlos Department of Architecture)

For me a Filipino-inspired unit design is that type of design using every area of the expensive condominium unit. It’s really hard to say that the design is a Filipino Design by mere use of furnishings. For me, a Filipino-inspired Design is best expressed using furniture as storage, wall space as hanging space and decors that are not merely decorative but have an added function. This showcases the Filipino traits of adaptability, resourcefulness and creativity. For maximizing a small and limited space is something very Filipino.

Joseph Arnel Ocon
Architect 1 Head Architectural Section, Cebu City Office of the Building Official

My concept of a Filipino-inspired condominium unit is a combination of selected elements of a “bahay kubo” and the “bahay na bato” wherein simplicity, efficiency, and resiliency combine to promote the aesthetic feeling. The concept speaks through its function and seen in proper space planning and application of Filipino-inspired materials such as bamboo, stone, and capiz shells. These materials still exist and are being used presently in building conventional indigenous houses especially in the rural areas. As a designer, I will apply the quality of work through the character of the design wherein the basic foundation is the love of our culture and traditions. In a tropical modern Filipino architecture, the design must be felt from within.

Sophia Grace Sanchez
Architect/blogger/furniture designer

Philippines is rich in natural resources and has good craftsmanship. Probably by being inspired by the resources and indigenous materials we have. Another is taking the traditional filipino familial culture into consideration in planning the relationship between spaces.

Christine Vicentillo
Project architect

My concept of a Filipino-inspired condo unit would be a bright space with white walls, and brass and capiz elements to accessorize the unit. A contemporary design can be given a Filipino charm with a rectangular capiz chandelier over the dining table. A modern rattan accent chair with white pillows for the living room will also add warmth to the home as well.

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