Creativity and Logic: Francisco Mañosa’s Legacy

June 8, 2023



Shan Arcega

To summon creativity, sometimes one must have the time and silence that allows it to just wander in. Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School found through an experiment that procrastination can lead to more creative results.

In this experiment, one half of the participants were told to think of an idea immediately while the other half took five minutes before thinking of new ideas. The result shows that those who took more time or procrastinated generated more creative ideas.

By allowing creativity time to simmer, it can come hand in hand with well-conceived logic–an important combination in various disciplines including architecture where deeply understanding the local context and culture is a pillar to creating memorable spaces with cultural significance. For Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, one of the most significant and influential architects in the Philippines, the act of simmering–taking the time to explore and revitalize the old construction methods alongside local materials that fit the Philippine setup solidified his status as one of the country’s pioneers of neo vernacular architecture in the Philippines. 

By the 1950s, Mañosa along with Leandro Locsin and Rodrigo Perez III had started creating mid-century modern buildings that still carry indigenous traditions like the Maranao-inspired Sulo Restaurant in Makati, Esso Gas Stations, and the iconic San Miguel Headquarters Building in Ortigas. In the following years, Mañosa’s works focused on returning to showcasing Filipino identity in the modern age and keeping them alive through architecture that uses vernacular concepts and manipulates indigenous materials. Here are just some of his projects that strongly present these ideas.

Related read: Bobby Mañosa: On loss, and those with lasting significance

The Coconut Palace or Tahanang Pilipino, CCP Complex, Pasay

the coconut palace by Mañosa and Company
The Coconut Palace by Mañosa and Company. Image from Mañosa & Company website
Coconute Palace Details

Commissioned by Imelda Marcos, the Coconut Palace was supposed to be a guesthouse for visiting artists at the nearby Cultural Center. It presents a double roof inspired by the salakot and swing-out windows inspired by the bahay kubo and uses more local materials like bamboo, rattan, capiz shells, and native textile combined with hardwood and metal. Of course, noting its namesake, Tahanang Pilipino also makes wide use of coconut lumber that can be seen in the parquet flooring that is reminiscent of the coconut tree’s hexagonal cross-sections and tree trunks. The Coconut Palace became a place for fabricating new products like the coconut fiber guinit wallpaper made from the coconut’s fibrous sheath and coconut shell inlay for the decor.

Miriam College Environmental Education and Research Center, Quezon City

Miriam College ESI. Image from Mirima College Environmental Studies Institute - ESI official Facebook Page
Miriam College Environmental Education and Research Center. Image from Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute – ESI official Facebook Page

An institutional project inspired by the salakot, Miriam College’s Environmental Education and Research Center or the Environmental Studies Institute (ESI) is a pentagonal structure that protects from the strong and rains with its climate-responsive design that allows for expansive media aguas, a naturally ventilated atrium that allows generous natural lighting and blurring indoor/outdoor dichotomies.  

Metrorail (Light Rail Transit-1), Baclaran – Monumento Terminals & Stations

LRT-1 concept art from Mañosa & Company's official Facebook page
LRT-1 concept art. Image from Mañosa & Company’s official Facebook page

The original LRT-1 design by Bobby Mañosa was supposed to showcase a design inspired by the high-pitched roofs of indigenous houses with enough space underneath for more amenities and pedestrian-friendly space where art galleries, bookstores, cafes, and shops can be found. Envisioned to have a “bahay na bato” concept, its initial designs showed the use of terracotta tiles on long roof lines, the use of wooden beams and local clay tile floorings alongside solar panels, rainwater collection systems, and the use of both foreign and local indigenous materials to make it uniquely Filipino and climatically responsive in design.

With an architectural philosophy that attends to both climate and local culture, Mañosa created commercial, institutional, residential, and even ecclesiastical work, utilizing new techniques that won against internationalist styles that didn’t fit the local culture or climate. 

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