The Kilyawan Farm Resort located in Ibaan, Batangas, recently earned a Highly Commended placement at the World Architecture Festival. The innovative design story narrated by Dominic Galicia Architects highlights the project’s multifaceted nature and its commitment to sustainable architecture.
From Poultry Farm to Eco-Resort
Named after the local black-naped oriole – the kilyawan, the resort sits on an 8.5-hectare property. Once a bustling agro-industrial complex housing 55,000 egg-laying chickens, the architects transformed the space into a serene haven filled with bamboo, fruit-bearing trees, and roaming chickens, embodying a perfect rural escape.
Project Architect Gian Fuentes dela Cruz described their initial encounter with the site: “It’s a very interesting shape.” The existing structures, including the chicken coops, served as a canvas for the architects to weave a new narrative while respecting the site’s historical essence.
Sustainable Architecture as a Core Principle
The design team, led by Galicia, embraced sustainability at every turn. The resort’s architecture is rooted deeply in the authenticity of the place with building materials sourced from the site. The team converted three of the eight chicken coops into cabins and the reception building, with the others earmarked for learning facilities and eco-tourism.
The resort comprises two main buildings – the 690 square meter Cabins Building and the 580 square meter Reception Building. Both structures utilize the original footprints and steel trusses of the former chicken coops, innovatively repurposed and partly clad in locally-sourced bamboo. The Cabins Building, separated by courtyards for privacy, features walls made of bamboo and recycled wood. The Reception Building utilizes recycled narra wood and handmade clay bricks arranged in a pattern resembling weaving.
In their quest for sustainability, the architects initially planned to use rammed earth but eventually opted for eco-bricks made of cement and recycled plastic trash, a choice that added an eco-conscious edge to the design. Senior Architect Robert de Mesa shared, “It’s humbling to work with bricks again… You have to draw it one-by-one to make sure that the terminations are proper.”
Natural Cooling and Local Craftsmanship
A key feature of the resort is its emphasis on natural cooling. The buildings, equipped with white metal roofs and thick masonry walls provide ample cross-ventilation. The use of porous materials further enhances the natural cooling effect. Galicia revealed the system is so effective that most guests prefer not to use the cabins’ air conditioning.
The resort also celebrates local craftsmanship. Woven mats crafted by a community of women weavers from an island off the coast of Batangas adorn the ceilings. The bedroom ceilings are of the finer-scaled buri palm leaf while the eaves are of the broader amakan split bamboo also used throughout the Reception Building.
Overcoming Pandemic Challenges
The creation of Kilyawan Farm Resort was not without challenges, especially during the pandemic. The architects had to adapt to new ways of working, including coordinating with contractors online and ensuring the accuracy of construction through mock-ups. Dela Cruz described the project as “unorthodox” in its approach, highlighting the team’s dedication to exploring new techniques and materials.
A Retreat for Urban Dwellers
Today, Kilyawan Farm Resort stands as a serene getaway for city dwellers, active seniors, and couples. It’s a place where guests can immerse themselves in the authenticity of farm life and reconnect with nature. The resort’s transformation from a poultry farm to an eco-friendly retreat not only showcases architectural ingenuity but also represents a dream realized – to offer a genuine escape from the urban hustle to the tranquility of the farm.
Kilyawan Farm Resort continues to evolve, with plans to expand its facilities for learning and eco-tourism. This ongoing development, combined with its sustainable approach and respect for local heritage, makes it a unique architectural and environmental gem in the Philippines.
The project is also one of 50 shortlisted for Wienerberger’s 2024 Brick Award honors.