This Family Rest House in Bataan Embodies Simplicity and Symmetry

July 23, 2019



Denny Mata and Angel Yulo

The family rest house, a collaboration between Sudarshan Khadka client Gilson Chu who also functioned as the project contractor, stands on a steep slope in a coastal development in Bataan. Khadka remembers looking at a SketchUp model of what Chu envisioned when they first met. Chu, who had completed a number of retail interiors, knew how to use SketchUp pretty well and presented several perspectives, floorplans, room plan layouts, including ideas for the roof shape and window finishes.

Khadka was impressed by Chu’s initiative and described how the initial design could be further developed. Excited by Khadka’s solutions, Chu hired the architect, asking him to ensure that each side of the house would enjoy sun shading. “He is very meticulous, and I like that. It’s one of the better experiences that I had with a contractor,” says Khadka. “We were on the same page in terms of quality.”

From across the road, the house looks like a two-story, when it has more below the ground level. “We were able to build two floors below the ground level just because the slope is quite steep,” Khadka says.
myhome homes chu family rest house sudarshan khadka anvaya bataan
The double roof accommodates horizontal vents near the top, reinforced by ceiling strips spaced out with 5-millimeter gaps, which help ventilate the roof while keeping the actual vents out of sight.

Paying homage

A good portion of Chu’s initial concepts was carried on to the final design, which turned out to be an homage to Khadka’s mentor in Locsin Partners, Ed Ledesma. “I don’t think I’ve told Gilson this,” says Khadka, chuckling. “This was my way of trying to understand what it felt like to do good work. In a way, you’re following footsteps. In a way, you’re paying respect to him. In a way, you’re inspired by him also. So my intention—the house being one of my first personal projects—was to make something as if it were Ed Ledesma doing it.”

The wood used throughout the house—from the curtain wall to the bathroom details, including the furniture pieces—is a mixture of different species, lengths, and cuts of narra, yakal, kamagong, and other locally sourced wood.
One of the discussions Khadka and Chu had was whether to put the 7-meter-high volume in the back or the front. While it seems like it wouldn’t matter since the house is symmetrical, they decided on keeping the double volume in front.

“He aims to capture a primitive idea—the feeling of home in vernacular form,” Khadka describes Ledesma’s architecture. “He also creates dramatic moments that fit into a cozy space.”

READ MORE: Leandro V. Locsin Partners’ Ed Ledesma on Protégés

Gilson Chu worked on the interior finishings of the shops that he owns, so working with wood, fabrication techniques, as well as finishing techniques were all familiar to him. “He was able to source reclaimed wood from old houses, and bought truckloads of it, even if we didn’t have use for them yet,” tells Khadka.
myhome homes chu family rest house sudarshan khadka anvaya bataan
The stairs are made without risers for cross-ventilation.

The 563-square-meter rest house embodies the simplicity and stability of the bahay na bato, with its pitched roof, rigid walls, wide windows, stone base, and wooden materials. While the land developer did require every home in the village to have a pitched roof, Khadka asserts that it was intentional for him and Chu. The eaves are set to 1.5 to 2 meters deep, with the roof shading the second floor and additional canopies below protecting the ground-level windows.

“The kitchen is small relative to the house. It’s just a linear kitchen because of the symmetry, but it’s also the amount of space they wanted for the area. Besides, there’s a service kitchen on the pool level,” Khadka explains.

On the ground floor is the parents’ bedroom, facing the road.

“The sharpness of the roof profile is definitely inspired by Ed,” says Khadka. Meanwhile, parts of the exterior and interior walls are clad with reclaimed wood panels. The client really enjoys woodworking (one can see this in the shops he has worked on) and had sourced reclaimed wood for the doors, floors, and ceiling of his own home. Khadka detailed the components and Chu fabricated them.

Above the parents’ bedroom is the family room.

Following the grid

“I also wanted to explore this idea of what it is to do something symmetrical. Previous to this, I didn’t value symmetry,” Khadka adds. “I used to think progressive architecture meant that you do something crazy, do something Zaha.”

On the same floor as the family room are the two symmetrical bedrooms, usually occupied by Gilson Chu’s sisters’ family whenever they visit, and a storage room.

Khadka observed a central axis and it is evident even on the house’s façade. Influenced by classical architecture, the exposed columns are equidistant from each other, evoking a feeling of stability and permanence. “With symmetry, it’s like you’re being definite about your moves, and your architectural intentions are clear,” Khadka says. “But it also takes discipline to get the symmetry right.”

One of the bedrooms on the second floor is directly above the pool, with an unobstructed view of the golf course.
Like the bedroom next door and the ones below, this bedroom has a work station with ample shelf space.

The interiors follow a grid. For instance, the partition walls on the 165-square-meter (ground floor area) ground floor are aligned to the dead center, segregating private spaces to the west and social spaces to the east. The east-side living and dining spaces flow continuously to the veranda spanning the full width of the back of the house overlooking the golf course. The parents’ bedroom on the other side of the floor is separated from the powder room and back-facing kitchen by the main staircase.

Sharing a view of the golf course is the bedroom nearest to the staircase that leads to the ground and basement floors.

The living area is a double-height space with a ceiling clad in reclaimed wood. Meanwhile, directly above the parents’ bedroom is the family room that shares the soaring ceiling in the living area. Two bedrooms of the same size and mirrored orientations were placed at the rear portion of the second floor so that these can have views of the greenery and golf course beyond.

READ MORE: Furunes + Locsin’s Streetlight Tagpuro qualifies for WAF Building of the Year

Like the other bedroom’s bathroom, this bathroom features woodwork that creates a distinction among areas inside.

Below the ground floor is the service kitchen connected to the pool area that features an unobstructed view of the golf course. Beside it is another bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass walls kept private by mid-height lush greenery and roll-up blinds. In the basement is a spacious bedroom, which is usually occupied by Gilson Chu whenever he and his family visits, according to the caretaker of the rest house.

myhome homes chu family rest house sudarshan khadka anvaya bataan
“We really wanted to maximize the connection between the rear side of the property and then the house. That’s why the pool is also located facing the golf course. The bedrooms look out to that side. Of course, the living and dining areas open up to the balcony which is oriented towards the golf course behind it.”

Lessons from symmetry

The different spaces of the house follow horizontal and vertical grids. Rooms stack up and an invisible line emanating from the handrail of the main staircase forms an axis on which the spaces pivot. One can also sense the order from the exact alignment of the ceiling lines. While staying on-axis keeps everything neat and sleek, Khadka says it has its trade-offs. For instance, the kitchen and bathrooms might look tight or the ground floor room might be a bit small. “We were trying to fit everything into that symmetry, so the walls are strictly in the middle. Although we could have made some adjustments, we were limited by the footprint,” Khadka explains.

myhome homes chu family rest house sudarshan khadka anvaya bataan
On the same level as the service kitchen and the pool is another bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that allow the users to view the golf course.
The windows by the staircase are also operable so that air circulates throughout.

“For a while, I was doing things very symmetrically, then I realized that symmetry and asymmetry work better together. One is not better than the other, it just depends on what your narrative is and your intentions are.”

– Sudar Khadka
myhome homes chu family resthouse sudarshan khadka anvaya bataan
The spacious bedroom on the second basement.

READ MORE: Streetlight Tagpuro – The Winning Presentation

Photographed by Ed Simon

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