The Modern House: Reincarnations of the Bahay Kubo

Archian Design Architect Studio Iloilo - Cebu City

The Modern House: Reincarnations of the Bahay Kubo

Once upon a time, there was a great bamboo stalk. The stalk among many things was warm and fuzy. It had two beating hearts. After a few years the bamboo became full and burst and out came the two great lovers: malakas and maganda. They gathered the splinters and built their home. Malakas from the bottom of his heart used his hair to tie the bamboo to build the rafters and maganda used her light to shine on the home. From them started all the Filipino race. . . . and the legend of the Bahay Kubo.

The bahay kubo has gone a long way from its early beginnings. It was time that tested the kubo’s strength and has grown all our myth of heroes and tribal chiefs with banig (sleeping matt) on the bamboo floor.

As years passed by Spanish sailors made their way through our islands and wrested control of the natives. As they built their massive concrete blocks and white houses, their homes stood in contrast with the lush countryside. As rains poured on, the mud settled into their living room and floods devoured their house. At other places, earthquake tore their buildings and levelled their hopes. It was there that this peculiar white skins grew to admire how dry the raised stilt bamboo houses of the natives kept warm during rain and cool during the day. They too humbled themselves and respected the bahay kubo.

The bahay kubo was adjusted to the taste of the Spanish rulers as they adopted a concrete base with wooden second or third floor, which worked out well during earthquakes. As different nationalities came to the wonderful islands of the Philippines, they brought with them their culture and language but the bahay kubo stood tall as the home for all families.

The Chinese from the North, the Muslim raiders from the South, The Indians from the East and Americans from the West. Each brought with them a different flavor of the bahay kubo. The flavor that we will taste today.


White and wood native Malay house

White and wood native Malay house

White concrete modern concrete contrast with dark wood slats merge to create an interesting ensemble of tropical white native house. Glass walls at the bottom allow light and expand the space.


Vietnamese Architects reincarnation of the Kubo

Vietnamese Architects reincarnation of the Kubo

With the renewed use of the bamboo as a green material. It gained wide use in different structures. On top is a bamboo pavillion meeting place supported by compound bamboo columns.

Tropical Modern apartments - bahay kubo

Tropical Modern apartments – bahay kubo

Modern apartments in South East Asia espouse a certain quality: wide overhangs. This apartment uses a tukod – a wood prop to keep open a window, but in this case used permanently to carry the sloped roof.


Colonial Concrete Stairs - bahay kubo

Colonial Concrete Stairs – bahay kubo

Different combinations of concrete and tropical architecture merge into this colonial home. The narrow eaves lend themselves into thin slender columns in great contrast to its Mediterranean Style inspiration. The large concrete ballusters yeild to the slenter white-painted balustrades. Spanish Mediterranean features of wide white walls give way to white-windows.


Modern urban Malay House

Modern urban Malay House

Above is a modern interpretation of a bahay kubo. the low pitched roof holds the helmet over the head of the concrete structure. Walls are replaced by slatted walls to bring the light into the interiors.

Borrowed Thai Style Roof

Modern Thai Style Roof

To the north of the Philippines Islands is the Chinese, who have a strong influence on our architecture. TheChinese porcelain or tiled roof evolve from the mainland to become concave roofs of the South East Asian coastal people of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Tropical Wood Modern house

Tropical Wood Modern house

Keeping the warm red-brownish color of tropical architecture, the above house is influenced by the Modern Style. The style is a movement to focus on function instead of adornment which began at the early 20th Century. The bahay kubo signature is the stilt columns which instead of bamboo have used steel.

Modern Stilt House

Modern Stilt House

A regular concern of Tropical Countries like the Philippines is flooding. But in cases like above, the countries in these region have very long coastline so much that the natives have been more than comfortable to instead live by the sea. In the old days, these removes all problems of plumbing as waste is thrown directly onto the waterways. Today, an amphibious evolution of the bahay kubo is to build on water and use stilts.

I hope that this article has allowed you to embrace our local architecture and yet welcome new evolution with modern materials and form. We are Filipinos, a very ingenious people with a great capacity to adapt to different environments and thrive.

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

Archian Design Architect Studio Iloilo - Cebu City

Please read our article: How to Build the Prettiest and Cheapest Home in the Philippines


About Archian
An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

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