Influences on Philippine Architecture

Archian Design Architect Studio Iloilo - Cebu City

Influences on Philippine Architecture

House in Philippine Antillean Style

House in Philippine Antillean Style

If a foreigner visits the Philippines Isles, it doesn’t take long for him to recognize that indeed Philippine Architecture is one of the most iconic and beautiful in the world. Not only is Philippine Architecture beautiful, it is distinct and colorful, and it is set in the most beautiful paradise, along with rolling terrain, pristine rivers (I hope it stays that way and what is left stays) and the most breathtaking scenery of trees and greens!

With this backdrop, anything we build and design in this piece of heaven is icing on the cake. How could it not be? But the Philippines is falling on hard times in the economy – read about it on a future post.

I am Arch. Ian Jay Bantilan and let me share my penny’s and diamond’s worth of what I believe.

There are many things that create a pull on architecture: history, climate, history, religion. The Philippines is no different. Yet it takes a little digging deeper how each affects us and how we design our buildings here in Manila, Cebu, Davao or wherever you live in our 7107 islands. As a disclaimer, this article is not meant to be an authority or a scholarly work but a product of my thoughts and analysis about why we build the way we do.

For me, there are 4 major influences to Philippine Architecture.

1. Tropical Climate.

This first one is the most difficult to ignore. Try putting a Mediteranean house here or a glass building – the house grows molds and gets the furniture wet, while the glass building cooks you up to perfection! No matter how good the design, if it was meant for the artic and cooler regions or the US or Europe, it just wouldn’t do in the Philippines. Function takes prescendence on aesthetics. How would you like to live in a very hot house that looks nice, you can’t even sleep?

Asya Premier Suites Boracay - Filipino Architecture

Asya Premier Suites Boracay – Filipino Architecture

2. Buddhist, Islamic and Christian Culture

This three magnets create a push and pull dynamic on our architecture. The buddhist, although not pronounced allows us to believe in Feng Shui, and other folktales. While these may not be valid for you, you shouldn’t take them for granted in designing your building.

The Islamic awakening, while felt more strongly from the Mindanao and Southern Islands, keeps us aware of our diversity. Different elements of their pointed arches, close knit family, and clans form a vast library of expression in our collective unconscious.

The Christian backdrop of Cathedrals and Stone Houses has been ingrained in our psyche. It forms the container where we all worship: the sounds were hear, the mass, the procession, the statues and objects of our religion.

3. Spanish Style

By Spanish Influence, I could mean the types of building in Southern Europe that was introduced in the Philippines. With these come the Mediteranean and Classical Styles were we all mastered as students. This historical styles are the foundation on how we could in turn get a sense of balance in appreciating modern, deconstruct and minimalist styles.

Filipino Spanish Architecture - Intramuros

Filipino Spanish Architecture – Intramuros

Spanish Design also includes stone, masonry, concrete and glass. The spanish plaza, main streets and cathedral became a common understanding of laying out communities.

4. American Civic and International Style

Last of all was the influence of American Civic Architecture in the Philippines. This means that the americans taught us the appreciation of large edifices and its symbol of society. From there, they built schools which also influence how we design the next schools for our country.

Filipino Architecture - Manila Post Office Building

From the intricate designs of the Spanish, we learn to associate the capitals and mouldings appropriately to institutions: Government, Schools, Hospitals and Churches.

Has these article been interesting to you? Please take time to share. 🙂

Archian Designs Architect Studios is a Collaboration of Architects, Urban Planners, Interior Designers, Landscape Designers and Engineers in the Philippines. To see the contact information, email to, call 0907 7240452 or contact us.

About Archian
An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

One Response to Influences on Philippine Architecture

  1. very well said sir.:)

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