Architects to design storm-ready homes for Visayas

Prominent architects are surveying communities in Eastern Visayas now, and will design homes for Yolanda-hit areas free of charge, in partnership with the NHA

BUILDING FOR TYPHOONS. Architect Topy Vasquez envisions a cubic design for typhoon-proof housing in Yolanda-hit Eastern Visayas. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Prominent Filipino architects are ready to do pro bono work to design typhoon-resistant homes for localities battered by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

In a roundtable discussion on November 20, Wednesday, members of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) said they are coordinating with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to draw up concepts for these much-needed houses.

The architects will not charge for their designs, but funding for the building materials and actual construction will come from the government or international aid.

UAP members and a team from Emergency Architects Foundation (EAF), a non-governmental organization based in France, are currently in Eastern Visayas doing assessments on the conditions, location, and topography of the affected areas.

The focus , however, is still on the immediate need for temporary shelters for the evacuees.

“The mission right now is to provide temporary shelter in the form of canvass and rolled plastic. What we are doing right now is assessing the conditions in these areas. The team will be done by Tuesday (November 26),” said Sonny Rosal, UAP president.

The team will conduct assessments of hard-hit Tacloban City, Roxas City in Capiz, Iloilo, and northern Cebu.

The deployed architects will compile their findings and come up with modules and initial design concepts for the houses. These modules will then be given to UAP members in Manila who will “come up with a permanent house that is cost-effective yet dignified,” said Rosal.

With funding from EFA, UAP will construct permanent shelters aside from housing to be constructed by the NHA.

Rosal said the group will also offer its services to Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, the government authority with the mandate for rebuilding Eastern Visayas.

SIMPLE YET EFFECTIVE DESIGN. Architect Willy Coscolluela recommends easy, cost-effective designs that are quick to implement and are highly replicable. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

Designing for a cause

More than 360,000 homes were totally destroyed by Yolanda, according to a November 21 report by the Natonal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). 

The NHA has formed a technical team to construct housing for the 4 million people now displaced. UAP was invited to join the team, said Rosal.

With its 30,000 member architects, UAP can easily help design these shelters.

“In our group, we can do a masterplan for each area because each area has a different consideration. Design can be free for all practitioners who can contribute. We need a master planner for each area,” said architect Willy Coscolluela.

“Model of houses should be generic and can be adopted easily and quickly. We’re talking about permanent housing,” he said.

UAP has worked with NHA on other housing projects, including one in Tondo and other parts of Metro Manila. 

During the roundtable talks, the architects exchanged ideas on the design features of the typhoon-resisant homes to be constructed. (READ: 8 features of a typhoon-resistant house)

Cubic homes that can stand alone as single-room structures or be combined to form multiple living spaces was considered. Another idea was to use tempered glass with protective film for windows so they do not shatter into fatal jagged pieces. Storm shutters to seal windows and doors was suggested, as were stilts to elevate houses from flooding and storm surge.

While the onslaught of Yolanda is tragic and painful for the entire country, the architects hope this can be a chance to rebuild the devastated communities into typhoon-resilient ones that can serve as models for the rest of the world. – 

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