Possibilites for Filipino Architecture

Archian Design Architect Studio Iloilo - Cebu City
Possibilites for Filipino Architecture

There has been such arguments whether Filipino Architecture exists or not. Countless are the skeptics who thoroughly examine the identity of such architectural localization. For most people who don’t realize the features of Philippine Architecture, it can be easily determined by just looking in the country side. What type of house do Filipinos live in? What house resembles Filipinos? Exactly, the ‘bahay-kubo’ or the nipa hut is the main defining house that distinguishes the Philippines.

Intramuros - Filipino Spanish Architecture

Intramuros – Filipino Spanish Architecture

But critics have given such look on this matter because nipa huts are qualities of typical tropical architecture design. Considering that nipa huts can also be seen in other parts of the region; it is also visible in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian locations. Thus the question is raised once again? Is there such a thing called Filipino Architecture?

Dauin Resort - Filipino Architecture

Dauin Resort – Filipino Architecture

If you ask most of the architects and designers in the Philippines, they will definitely answer yes! Why would they say no, they have been contributors on strengthening the concept of Filipino Architecture. There are two great Filipino architects who made waves locally and internationally by imposing their architectural ingenuity and Filipino qualities. They are Leandro V. Locsin and Bobby Manosa. These two are the pioneers of Philippine Architecture. Their works shaped the landscape of the Philippines and created a worldwide impression as well.

Filipino Architecture - Manila Post Office Building

Filipino Architecture – Manila Post Office Building

Such greatness are contained in their works that they have been constant topics on most architecture schools in the country. One of the masterpieces of Bobby Manosa is the ‘Coconut Palace’ located in Roxas Boulevard, just across the Manila bay. Just as its name says it, the whole structure consists mostly of coconut materials, thus creating a feeling of natural serenity and architectural ingenuity. There are many other structures in the Philippines that create a distinct quality and a localized feel that the stand for identifying Philippine architectural style is strong.

Another stand that helps Philippine Architecture to become strong is the preservation of the historical structures that mostly existed during the colonial era. Most of these structures are located in Intramuros and at Vigan. The Spanish-colonial look of the houses and other structures, commonly called the ‘Bahay na Bato’ or stoned house, is another type of housing that distinguishes Filipino Architecture. These stoned houses are distinct because of its base which is composed of stone and its roof made up of nippa. Though existing during the Spanish colonial period, this architectural effect on the Philippines makes it its own.

Filipino Architecture - Shangrila

Filipino Architecture – Shangrila

With the help of local architects and the preservation of historical structures, the ‘Bahay Kubo’ and ‘Bahay na Bato’ are long-standing types of structures that the Philippines proudly has. Thus, the discussion about the existence of Filipino Architecture still stands strong. Today, the effect of other architectural styles have undermined some architects to utilize Filipino architecture, thus there should be a call to just even incorporate such an element with their works in order to help strengthen the style and thought of Filipino Architecture. Filipinos are talented designers and the future still holds a lot of possibilities. Who knows, maybe someday, all the skepticism about Filipino Architecture might completely go away.

Neoclassical Philippine Civic Architecture - UP Diliman Main Building

Neoclassical Philippine Civic Architecture – UP Diliman Main Building

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2 Responses to Possibilites for Filipino Architecture


    I believe a lot of the modern-traditional (young and the young ones) Pinoys still have in them the love for local Filipino materials like bamboo, river stones, nipa/anahaw, natural fabrics. However, I feel that they LACK” the “push for local architecture” since most of them work with local ” self taught contractors, or engineers that work as 2-in-1 (engr and play architect all in one). The people also do not have a lot of exposure to GREAT BAHAY KUBO DESIGNS hence are confined to “copying” what everybody is doing… a boring “concrete block structure with room divisions and a roof). Another weakness I see in using local materials is the “question of longevity” compared to concrete (issues of discoloration, decay or “anay” which is common to untreated immature bamboo materials). I myself have been looking for a local “bahay kubo” designs sturdy enough to stand against the elements particular strong winds and typhoons, and the scorching heats in summer.

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