The bahay na bato, which translates to “House of Stone,” became part of Filipino vernacular architecture during Spanish colonization. Today, modern bahay na bato architecture continues to evolve while retaining its historical essence. Architects and designers reinterpret this traditional style to meet contemporary needs, integrating modern materials and technologies while preserving the characteristic features that define the bahay na bato.

This fusion results in homes that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also environmentally responsive and culturally relevant. By embracing sustainable design principles and innovative construction techniques, the modern bahay na bato serves as a living bridge between the past and the present, ensuring that the rich architectural heritage of the Philippines continues to thrive and adapt in the 21st century.

A 300 Year Old Legacy

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar at night.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar at night is an even more spectacular sight. Image by Deric Kho.

Once a symbol of affluence, bahay na bato architecture flourished in the 19th century as wealthy Filipinos constructed these grand houses throughout the archipelago. This architectural style blended Austronesian, Spanish, and Chinese aesthetics, which reflected the cultural exchange of that era. American influences emerged in the early 20th century, further adding to the genre’s unique architectural tapestry. And the style wasn’t limited to residences either. Convents, schools, hospitals, and adopted elements of bahay na bato. Even Malacanang Palace’s earliest iteration followed this form.

The structure’s design elements thoughtfully addressed the local environment, which brought about several of its iconic features. An evolution of the traditional bahay kubo, the bahay na bato’s stone foundations, from which it derives its name, replaced the stilts found on the kubo. Stone and brick eventually replaced organic materials like coral stone and adobe on the lower level, offering better protection against frequent typhoons and earthquakes. And like the kubo, the ground floor originally served as a storage area, or silong.

The elevated and overhanging wooden upper story featured capiz shell windows that allow for ample ventilation and natural light. Additionally, the high-pitched roofs, traditionally crafted from nipa, cogon, and later on, tiles, were well adapted for Philippine weather.

While the popularity of this architectural style waned after World War II, it left a lasting legacy. Today, many ancestral homes in the Philippines are bahay na bato, making them an integral part of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

What is a Bahay na Bato?

A view of Dr. Pio Valenzuela's bahay na bato, now a museum.

A rectangular layout with living spaces surrounding a central courtyard characterize a typical bahay na bato floor plan. Living spaces all occupied the second floor, with the caida (receiving area), sala (main living space), and comedor (dining room) flowing into one another.

The foyer with its exposed ceiling rafters and walls inlaid with thin strips of black pen and mother-of-pearl; the steps on the left lead down to the zaguan
Besides ventanillas and a generous arrangement of windows on all sides of the house, calados–elaborate cutouts on the portions of walls near the ceiling–allow warm air to escape private quarters even when doors are closed.
BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Home.
Wide stairs lead from the silong to the antesala and the main living spaces upstairs
The back facade of the palacio has a series of galleries called volada, used by servants to move discreetly through the great bahay na bato without disturbing the prelates in the different sala

Other key architectural elements of bahay na bato architecture include the zaguan—a passageway or an entrance hall. The volada is an extended ledge that circulates air and light. An open terrace, or azotea, serves as a leisure area. Many of these homes also feature handcrafted calado; intricate wooden lattice work used for ventilation and aesthetics.

Cultural Significance and Legacy

As for what is bahay na bato in the context of Filipino heritage, it is a symbol of the country’s colonial past and a showcase of Filipino craftsmanship. The description of bahay na bato extends to its role as a Filipino colonial house, a reminder of a bygone era that continues to influence modern Filipino architecture.

Today, you’ll find bahay na bato in the old districts of cities and towns as historical landmarks. The question of “ano ang bahay na bato” resonates with the Filipino people’s identity, as these structures represent their storied past.

In understanding its history, we can see the architectural dialogue between the Philippines’ tropical environment and its socio-historical context. This enduring architectural form is a living testament to the Philippines’ rich cultural tapestry, one that continues to inspire and influence the archipelago’s built environment today.

The Evolution of the Modern Bahay na Bato

myhome modern bahay na bato image 7.

In modern times, the bahay na bato retains its nostalgic charm while embracing contemporary design sensibilities. The modern bahay na bato reflects the Filipino’s adaptability and creativity, integrating classic elements with new materials and technology to suit the modern lifestyle. Today’s versions often incorporate sleek lines and minimalist aesthetics, making the bahay na bato modern both in function and form.

Villa of Valor: The Villavicencio Ancestral Home in Taal, Batangas

BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Home
The Villavicencio sala is distinctive for its Art Nouveau wall coverings, and the double doors framed by handsomely carved transoms. The doors open out to a volada, an external corridor or enclosed balcony, facing the street.

The Villavicencio ancestral home, established in Taal around 1850, is a remarkable bahay na bato that’s part of the town’s architectural heritage. With a vista of historic buildings from its sala, the home is known for its Gothic-style wooden doors and a grand staircase leading from a stone-steps vestibule to the main living areas. The house reflects the family’s affluence and influence in the community, evidenced by unique features such as the original pressed tin ceiling panels—rare in Taal. The Art Nouveau wall coverings were commissioned for a governor-general’s visit in 1910.

BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Home.
Wide stairs lead from the silong to the antesala and the main living spaces upstairs
BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Bahay na Bato.
As with the sala, the dining room’s floor is made with long and wide planks of hardwood
BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Home.
Wide open windows offset the dark tin ceiling tiles of the antesala. The screen doors, a modern addition, lead to the formal dining room. The doors beyond lead to the kitchen
BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Bahay na Bato.
The canvas wall coverings sag in some places but bring early 19th century charm and gentility to the sala
BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Bahay na Bato.
Antique trunks and hand luggage at the foot of the carved four-poster bed add romantic, continental appeal
BluPrint Architecture Heritage Villavicencio Ancestral Home.
A small study crammed with various antiques occupies a corner of the antesala

Restored in the 1990s, the home maintained its historical integrity with rooms that preserved the original woodwork and canvas wall coverings. Its connection to Gliceria Marella Villavicencio, who played a pivotal role in the Philippine revolution, further cemented its historic significance. The house served as a meeting place for revolutionary figures like Andres Bonifacio. And it had a secret trap door leading to an escape tunnel to the river for the Katipunan.

Today, the structure stands as a proud monument to the Villavicencio family’s legacy and the fight for the country’s freedom.

Jaro’s Casa Mariquit: An Ancestral Home as Graceful as Its Namesake

Casa Mariquit, a traditional bahay na bato
Bahay na bato had wide sliding windows to let lots of air and light in, with generous sloping eaves to shelter the interiors from harsh sunlight and rain.

Casa Mariquit, a 200-year-old Javellana family home in Jaro, Iloilo, preserves the enduring story of its namesake, Mariquit Javellana. The house, with its capiz windows and grand staircase, reflects the wealth and status of her family, known for their business acumen and influential standing in Jaro.

While its exterior may appear modest compared to neighboring mansions, the interior speaks of luxury and status. Equipped with modern amenities for its time, like a telephone and gramophone, showcased the family’s affluence, along with the Philippine hardwood floors, solid yakal doors, and ornate callado fretwork.

With the silong floor raised, the grand staircase now has only 18 steps, which would have been considered extremely bad luck in the old days. According to superstition, stairs with 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, or 19 steps were auspicious. While going up each step, one would recite and repeat words, oro, plata, mata (gold, silver, death), with the first and last step being oro for good luck. Ending with plata wasn’t bad, but mata would be disastrous.
In the living room, even the picture frames on the side tables are the exact same. The place where Mariquit’s portrait hangs used to be a pair of doors opening out of the balcony.
A gramophone in a traditional Filipino home.
In the sala, the gramophone has been removed from one of the seating arrangements to an empty corner.
Upstairs by the landing is one of the office tables Fernando Hofilena Lopez used when he was Vice President of the Philippines.
A traditional balcony.

The house has seen thoughtful restoration work, including the preservation of its historical masonry and structure. Careful conservation efforts kept the heritage home’s traditional brickwork and lime plastering, characteristic of the bahay na bato architectural style. Today, Casa Mariquit stands as a well-maintained remembrance of Mariquit’s legacy, with the house’s contents now carefully curated to reflect her gentle spirit.

Preserving Dr. Pio Valenzuela’s Bahay na Bato

Heritage structures serve as vital links to a society’s identity. They offer a glimpse into the past through their physical features and the memories they encapsulate. The ancestral home of Dr. Pio Valenzuela, a key figure in the Philippine revolution, is one such structure in Valenzuela City, now transformed into a museum to honor his legacy.

The museum’s creation, spearheaded by ARC LICO under the guidance of Dr. Gerard Lico, involved meticulous restoration and reconstruction efforts. Blending tangible and intangible heritage conservation approaches, the project aimed to rebuild the bahay na bato and recreate an authentic experience of Dr. Valenzuela’s era. It approach delicately balanced historical accuracy with modern needs, and making the space relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences.

An aerial shot of Dr. Pio Valenzuela's bahay na bato with red pitched roof.
The sala of Dr. Valenzuela's bahay na bato.
A traditional wooden desk and chair in Dr. Pio Valenzuela's bahay na bato, now a museum.
A traditional wooden desk and chair in Dr. Pio Valenzuela's bahay na bato, now a museum.
A traditional library in Dr. Pio Valenzuela's bahay na bato, now a museum.
A traditional Filipino bedroom in Dr. Pio Valenzuela's bahay na bato, now a museum.

This transformed space now serves as a community hub. It fosters engagement and education while celebrating Dr. Valenzuela’s contributions to Philippine history. The museum, through its architecture, exhibitions, and programs, offers a dynamic interaction with history. Inviting visitors to connect with the past, the bahay na bato successfully preserves its historical narrative and cultural heritage.

Photographs courtesy of ARC LICO.

Curating Memories: Bobby Mañosa’s Bahay na Bato Nouveau

The Bahay na Bato Nouveau Bobby Mañosa
The Bahay na Bato Nouveau’s facade is modest and warm. Seen here are the signature features of a Mañosa-designed home.

The Bahay na Bato Nouveau, owned by Basti Lacson, is an exemplary case study of the preservation of art and memory. Nestled in a quiet Alabang neighborhood, this 16-year-old house, designed by the renowned National Artist for Architecture, Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, blends seamlessly with its surroundings. Despite its grandeur, it doesn’t overpower its environment. Rather, it complements it with its modest façade and etched glass entrance simulating capiz shells.

Basti Lacson, the house’s current owner and custodian, takes pride in maintaining the home’s legacy and the memories it holds. The residence boasts airy interiors thanks to the use of ventanillas and a sky-lit central atrium. It’s a key feature that evokes tranquility, but also aids in natural cooling. The wide-open floor plan and the trellised veranda offer cross ventilation and open spaces.

The dining table kept by Basti from the previous owners matches perfectly with the house’s overall vibe.
Bahay na Bato Nouveau Lanai.
The hat rack is another heirloom piece made by a famous carpenter who even left the initials of Basti’s father on the top left hand corner.

Furnished with vintage pieces and heirloom furniture, the house narrates with the family’s history and complements Mañosa’s overall aesthetic. The upper floor continues the theme with exposed structural members and vaulted ceilings. A roof deck serves as a peaceful escape with views of lush greenery and open skies.

The home is a living gallery, where the experience of dwelling surpasses the mere visual appreciation of art. It reflects Bobby Mañosa’s philosophy of creating spaces that are inherently Filipino in character and function.

Photographed by Ed Simon.

Carissa House: JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio’s Take on Bahay Na Bato

JJ Acuna's Carissa House, a modern bahay na bato.

JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio crafted this homage to the Filipino architectural vernacular with the Carissa House. The urban villa in Makati incorporates an internal courtyard and design elements reminiscent of the Philippines’ traditional bahay na bato. Carissa House is a manifestation of Acuna’s deep appreciation for his Filipino roots, particularly his provincial upbringing in Capiz.

The bahay na bato inspired design features an open plan layout and upper-floor living spaces. This , draws parallels with colonial-style homes in Intramuros. Acuna utilized materials such as limestone, slate, quartz terrazzo, and reclaimed Narra wood from the family’s ancestral home. These embody the villa’s structural and aesthetic features. Fair-faced concrete, rendered limewash concrete, paint, and timber veneers, characterize Carissa House’s simple yet elegant look.

Exterior of JJ Acuna's modern bahay na bato.
Exterior of JJ Acuna's modern bahay na bato.
Exterior of JJ Acuna's modern bahay na bato.

Local furniture and art pieces fill the villa, further emphasizing Filipino artistry and culture. Acuna stresses the importance of celebrating Filipino history and roots, consciously avoiding foreign influences in the home’s design. The Carissa House is a prime example of a unique and culturally rich space deeply infused with Filipino culture.

Photographed by Ed Simon.

TJSO Architects’ Modern Bahay na Bato in Oriental Mindoro

This TJSO Architects project fuses modern design with traditional Filipino elements. An exclusive subdivision in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, offers the setting for this architectural project. The region, known for its white sand beaches and ancestral houses, provided the architects with an opportunity to craft a sculptural design inspired by the local heritage.

The design incorporates reinforced wooden slats that serve as brise soleil and protective barrier against high winds and debris. Natural materials like Araal stones for wall cladding, along with hyper-extended canopies and roof eaves, ensure the building remains cool and well-lit. Moreover, the house promotes natural ventilation through strategic cross ventilation. Clerestory louvre slats enable a “chimney effect,” expelling hot air and maintaining comfort within the building.

the exterior of a modern bahay na bato in mindoro.
interior renderings inside a modern bahay na bato.

TJSO Architects emphasize the importance of being both sensitive to the project’s context. It blends in without being alien. They made sure every design element is aesthetically pleasing and functionally sound. Through projects like this, TJSO Architects aim to contribute to the preservation and revival of Filipino architectural identity and heritage.

Images courtesy of the architects.

Sudarshan Khadka’s Bataan Rest House: A Study in Symmetry and Simplicity

myhome homes chu family rest house sudarshan khadka anvaya bataan
A three-storey may look massive when looking at it from the side or from the rear of the property, which may not always be aesthetically pleasing. The use of stone on the base helps it to “dissolve” as a part of the slope.

In Bataan, a coastal development is home to a four-story family rest house. It’s a collaboration between architect Sudarshan Khadka and client-contractor Gilson Chu. The project honors Khadka’s mentor, Ed Ledesma. It embodies his architectural philosophy, creating a space that feels like a vernacular form of home.

Khadka’s design incorporates the simplicity and robustness of traditional bahay na bato architecture. Its stone base and wooden materials meet the demands of the property’s topography and the developer’s requirements. The house showcases the use of various local woods, creating a natural and cohesive look throughout the interior and exterior. The layout provides order and balance to the space. Rooms aligned along a central axis and living areas flow onto a veranda with views of the golf course.

The living area features a double-height ceiling with reclaimed wood, with bedrooms strategically placed to offer picturesque views. Below the ground floor, service areas and additional bedrooms make use of the sloped terrain.

Photographed by Ed Simon.

Tabing Bahay: A Modern Take on the Bahay na Bato

facade of Tabing Bahay, a modern intepretation of the bahay na bato, with a dutch roof and concrete screens.

Architect Jessa San Pedro crafted Tabing Bahay, a modern adaptation of the traditional bahay na bato, in Nueva Ecija. This home juxtaposes rustic charm with innovative design. It’s a residence that surprises and delights with its simplicity and thoughtful composition.

The name Tabing Bahay comes with a dual meaning—“beside” and “screen”. This reflects the home’s location opposite the clients’ parents and its key feature of concrete breeze blocks, respectively. These screens are a modern nod to traditional capiz windows. They  provide shade, privacy, and allow breezes to flow through while filtering the sunlight.

elevation of Tabing Bahay featuring details of its dutch roof and concrete screens.

The house’s design fuses classic Filipino architectural elements with modern materials and techniques. The exterior, lined with Wood Plastic Composite, contrast the concrete. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a dutch roof ventilates heat. All these elements still capture the essence of the bahay na bato’s wood and stone composition. San Pedro’s design pays tribute to Filipino architectural heritage while modernizing it to suit contemporary needs and preferences.

Photographed by Ed Simon.

Anna Sy’s B Residence Alludes to the Bahay na Bato’s Sense of Openness

BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture.
The metal louvers on the second floor windows screen the family room but leave the east-facing master bedroom view clear.

Anna Sy of CS Architecture crafted the B Residence as a family home designed for optimal circulation and privacy. The residence, with its discreet front door and rectilinear volumes, subtly integrates public and private spaces. Notable for its gray stone and vertical line motifs, the B Residence achieves privacy from the street while embracing openness within its living spaces. The ground floor, arranged in an L-shape, surrounds the garden and lap pool, with rooms designed for various family activities.

BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
Anna Sy and her team pour their efforts into figuring out the best diagram and layout for the property. They move on to the exteriors at the end of he process. “When it comes to modern architecture, I’m real traditionalist,” she says. With its few street-facing windows, the southwest facing B Residence stands 8 meters tall and exudes privacy later on offset by its openness once you enter its living spaces. The gray wall, finished in stone from Porcelanosa, is a consistent gesture throughout the house–a divide of public and private spaces. On the façade it keeps the garden concealed from the street. Inside, it separates the service areas from the main living spaces.
BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
A view of the main living spaces, the formal living room up to the family lounge furthest down, from the foyer. There are multiple options for circulation and access: one can traverse the 22-meter-long space via the corridor next to the gray wall or closer to the pond as well as the outdoor walkway right beside the sliding doors. If discretion is needed, one can walk through the service area to the left, which has doors to the living room and the kitchen.
BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
Just like the ground level, the second-floor family room is an open area with the middle containing the TV console, storage room, and kitchenette. But unlike below, the upper floor is a pure rectangular volume rather than L-shaped, leaving the space above the den clear. The corridor along the floor-to-ceiling windows (all operable) leads to the master bedroom. Meanwhile, the corridor to the left provides access to the kids’ bedrooms.
BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
The master bedroom at the rear of the house receives the morning sun. Palm trees planted by the perimeter wall, expected to grow taller in the coming years, will shield the back windows. Remote-controlled curtains provide it with extra shade throughout the day. The bed is separated from the sitting area by a TV-concealing console designed by Sy and her team.
BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
The teak-clad kitchen volume serves as an accent wall for the dining area on which a BenCab painting hangs. An orange Joya piece is by the end of the table. Keeping the walls and corners free from the clunky presence of cooling units, Sy installed a ceiling-concealed system throughout the house except for the children’s bedroom upstairs. On the ground floor, the ceiling in service areas behind the long gray wall was brought down to accommodate manholes and air conditioning units which blow out to the side through the black rectangular ducts.
BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
The kitchen and family lounge occupy the rearmost portion of the ground floor. The family often gathers here so these areas are often enclosed from the rest of the house. Sliding doors facing the pool, however, remain open. The island counter has both cooking and ding features so cleaning up after everyday meals is contained in smaller area.
BluPrint B Residence Anna Sy CS Architecture
The pool and garden viewed from the den. “When we look at the house from here, especially when the doors are all open, you see the wooden volume of the kitchen for what it is, a pedestal that holds up the house. You can also see the strength of the pool and waterfall feature and how these relate to the house,” says Sy.

Upstairs, the family room acts as a central hub, with bedrooms situated for privacy and comfort. The use of transparent dividers and strategic planning allows for a seamless flow between spaces. All these elements are reminiscent of the openness found in traditional bahay na bato architecture.

Photographed by Benson Go.

The Enduring Legacy of Bahay na Bato

A modern bahay na bato in the evening with a large pool.

The bahay na bato epitomizes the fusion of indigenous and colonial influences in Filipino architecture. Its design, which cleverly integrates natural ventilation, robust materials, and elemental protection. These elements showcase a profound understanding of the local environment and cultural heritage. A pivotal example of the Philippines’ design evolution, bahay na bato architecture provides a window into the nation’s historical and cultural fabric. And it continues to influence modern architectural practices with its enduring charm and relevance.

Father’s Day Gift Guide Every Type of Dad Will Love

Father’s Day reminds us of the incredible fathers (and father figures) who helped shape who we are. They were the steady hand we held onto and the silent champions celebrating our wins. This year, go beyond the ordinary, stereotypical presents and show your appreciation with these exceptional gift ideas. (Super) Natural’s Family Reunion Wine If […]

Protected: Smart Home Philippines Triumphs at International Property Awards, Earns Smart Home Asia Pacific Nomination

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Kyle Nuestro's architecture project under CSB's Design Exploration Program.

CSB’s Design Exploration: A Unique Approach to Architecture Education

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) is renowned for its innovative approach to education, particularly in the fields of arts and design. In the realm of architecture, one of the standout programs the college offers a specialized track called Design Exploration (DE). This program is distinct in its approach, blending traditional architectural education with […]

5 Easy Indoor Decluttering Projects During Rainy Season.

5 Easy Indoor Decluttering Projects During Rainy Season

It’s the rainy season again. The raindrops tapping against the roof and windowpane signal a retreat under the covers with a hot beverage. But before gloomy gray skies and cold weather send you curling up into bed, now might be the perfect time to declutter.  While you’re stuck inside waiting for the rain to stop, […]

Dust-Free Open Shelves: Easy Cleaning Hacks for the Perfect Display.

Dust-Free Open Shelves: Easy Cleaning Hacks for the Perfect Display

Every homeowner knows how quickly open shelves accumulate dust and dirt. And with all your ornaments and trinkets displayed, dusting these tricky gaps can turn into a precarious game of Jenga. If only there’s a way to clean them without knocking every knick knack over or having to move and reshuffle them all the time. […]

The crowd in the midst of discussion during the Gravity Art Space Artist Talks. Photo by Elle Yap.

Gravity Art Space’s Artist Talks Demystify the Creative Process

On May 31, Quezon City gallery Gravity Art Space held artist talks for their current exhibitions. Four artists with solo exhibits showed up to talk about their works and processes at length. The gallery also presented multiple short films, including premiering one by Joaquin Goldstein about the destruction of a local gallery in Argentina.  The […]

Download this month's BLUPRINT magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]