2023 Editor’s Picks: A Year in Review for Filipino Residences

December 26, 2023



Chad Rialp

The 2023 Editor’s Picks presents a collection of architectural masterpieces that redefine space and emotion. Its a selection that celebrates designs that intertwine dreams, art, and functionality, while embracing the natural world with reverence.

Each project narrates a story of turning challenges into creative opportunities, embracing limitations to foster innovation. These architectural projects help shape ideas regarding our physical surrounding. But they also nurture our emotional connections. We offer a glimpse into the transformative power of architecture in harmonizing with our environment to enhance our daily experiences.

Jim Caumeron’s Panorama House

Front facade of Jim Caumeron's  all white modernist home, Panorama House.
Panorama House Exterior

Jim Caumeron designs minimally, not by intent, but as a result of his process, focusing on clients’ desires and site conditions. His project, Panorama House, located on a 300-square-meter property in a Filipino gated community, posed a challenge. The client, seeking a weekend retreat from Manila, wanted a unique design on a tight budget.

Caumeron minimized costs by reducing the building to 100 square meters. Despite its suburban setting and lack of scenic views, he innovatively created an “introverted context.” This “Panorama idea” transformed the house into a world of its own, distinct from its Mediterranean-style neighbors.

Panorama House Interior

Suhar Khadka’s Shear Wall House

A narrow two storey concrete home with green wall designed by Sudar Khadka.

In our Bluprint series, “Notes from the Architect,” Sudar Khadka unveiled his creative process for the Shear Wall House. Facing a challenge to build a family home on a small, 175 sqm lot near an earthquake-prone area, Khadka focused on merging beauty with safety. His design philosophy, rooted in honesty and authenticity, shines through in his use of concrete, adapting it to the Philippine context and climate.

The house, a blend of structural strength and aesthetic appeal, utilizes a unique shear wall-foam board-concrete system. This method, rare in the Philippines, adds a poetic touch to the practical design. Khadka’s journey with the Shear Wall House demonstrates that clear intentions lead to innovative solutions, embodying a harmonious combination of form, function, and architectural integrity.

CoKoro Haus by Estudio Arkipelago

A modern tropical home with floor to ceiling windows looking out into a pool with wooden deck.

Joni Koro and Camille Co-Koro commissioned Estudio Arkipelago with the ambitious task of crafting their dream home. “CoKoro Haus” embodies a nurturing space for family connections. Prioritizing practicality, comfort, and a blend of Scandinavian, modern, and minimalistic designs, they focused on essential spaces, especially a communal area for family gatherings.

The L-shaped layout maximizes the corner lot, balancing public and private spaces. Open common areas are downstairs, with private, more delineated, quarters placed upstairs, including Camille’s coveted walk-in closet. Material choices like microcement and wood add to the home’s warm and distinctive aesthetic. Emphasizing harmony with nature, the design incorporates large windows for natural light and wind flow, reducing energy use. Estudio Arkipelago’s philosophy shines through in CoKoro Haus. It’s a home that grows with its inhabitants, merging functionality, beauty, and adaptability, capturing the essence of a living, evolving family haven.

Casa La Vista by Nazareno + Guerrero

A large pavilion lit up at night with a steps leading toward a swimming pool.

Originally a Renaissance-style mansion with Baroque interiors, Casas La Vista underwent a drastic transformation. Situated on six plots in a gated community and built in 1985, it featured gold moldings and illusionistic painted ceilings, with gardens resembling Paris’s Gardens of Versailles. But its owners deemed the mansion’s classical design outdated. They enlisted Anthony Nazareno and Christian Guerrero of Nazareno + Guerrero Design Consultancy for a redesign, focusing on cohesive architecture, individuality, and a connection with nature.

The new design integrates sustainable and Biophilic elements, emphasizing environmental consciousness without compromising human comfort. Biophilic design, essential to the project, fosters a direct connection with nature to improve the occupants’ well-being. With ample land, architects and landscape designers Plontur, created a modern tropical environment with low-maintenance plants, enhancing the contemporary home. The residence stands as a testament to harmonious architecture, blending modernity and nature.

Casas La Vista by Nazareno + Guerrero Design Consultancy | Photos by Ed Simon
Casas La Vista by Nazareno + Guerrero Design Consultancy | Photos by Ed Simon

Casa Cecilia

Rounding out our 2023 Editor’s Picks is Casa Cecilia. A Southern European-style villa in Laguna, Philippines, the project is the brainchild of 20-year-old architecture student Jolo Cecilia and Architect Anjo Cantalejo. Facing a unique challenge, Cecilia led the design of this villa on a ten-hectare farm, merging his youthful vision with the expertise of Interior Designer Karen Maximo-Fernando and Engineer Alfredo Dulay.

The villa offers breathtaking views of Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Malarayat, amidst coconut trees and banana plantations. Cecilia aimed for a timeless, tropical modern Mediterranean design, integrating nature with indoor spaces. The hacienda-style architecture features white arches, stucco-finished walls, and terracotta roof tiles, blending Spanish Mediterranean elements within a tropical setting.

The interior balances modern lines with natural materials and colors, creating a warm, interactive space. Collaborating with Landscape Architect Lester Almazan, the team combined European and tropical landscapes, featuring Bougainvillea and Calathea. Cecilia dedicated the villa to his parents as a tranquil retreat from urban life. Emphasizing sustainability, the design includes locally sourced materials, repurposed furniture, and environmentally conscious practices. Cecilia’s passion for architecture shines through in Casa Cecilia, marking a significant achievement in his budding career.

Our 2023 Editor’s Picks encapsulate the extraordinary power of architecture to transcend mere construction, crafting spaces that resonate deeply with the human spirit. Each featured project is a testament to the ability of design to shape our environments. But they also remind us that buildings are not just structures, but canvases for our lives’ stories. These architectural gems, with their unique narratives and innovative approaches, inspire us to see our surroundings as a beautiful interplay of art, nature, and human aspiration.

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