Floating house, aerodynamic school top archi-design contest

Toby Roca

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Floating house, aerodynamic school top archi-design contest
Young architects’ winning designs will be adopted in Yolanda reconstruction efforts
MANILA, Philippines – Close to a million families displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan still do not have permanent homes. And when school starts this month, close to 100,000 students in disaster-affected areas will have to learn inside makeshift classrooms. 

The challenge to “build back better” is enormous.  However, for the winners of the Build Forward architectural design competition, this challenge instead served as their inspiration.

Ten finalists, chosen from more than 100 entries from students from all over the Philippines, vied for top prizes in the house and school design categories.

In the end, a house that can float during floods and a school building with aerodynamic features emerged as winners in the June 5 awarding ceremony for the architectural design competition organized by Ortigas & Co, the Department of Science and Technology and Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

From thesis to first place

The winning house design belonged to Lara Therese Cruz, a recent architecture graduate from the University of Santo Tomas. 

Her entry, entitled “Bambox Hut”, features a steel-and-bamboo structure set upon a lightweight concrete base with steel drums underneath which act as pontoons that will help the house float during severe flooding.

Cruz said her design inspiration came from her thesis, which revolved around the concept of climate-adaptive architecture.

“I was actually doing my thesis the same time I entered the Bambox Hut design in the (Build Forward) competition,” she said in Filipino.

IN PHOTOS: Rebuilding lives inside the ‘no-build’ zone 

Odessa Kaye Bulahan of the University of San Carlos won second place for her re-imagination of the classic New York walk-up apartment, designed to be built using sustainable materials and be able to withstand typhoon-force winds.

In third place was the “Neobalay” house design by Christian Jay Noble of the Technological Institute of the Philippines Manila, featuring an octagon structure built on an elevated platform.

“Bahay Panalag Laban sa Kalamidad” by Menard Navarro, Joyce Mari Linchangco, Paul Allan Bansil and Jon Ilio was also based on the raised-platform set-up. Their honeycomb housing complex design garnered them fourth place.

One of the student architects, Linchanco, said her group drew ideas from her experiences as a resident of Malabon, one of the cities in Metro Manila most susceptible to flooding.

“In designing the house, we decided to elevate the living spaces and leave the ground level for storage and disposable stuff,” she explained.

In fifth place were Jonie Agas and Regine Deximo of University of the Philippines Diliman for their “Haligi” house design, anchored on a solid concrete core as its main structural element.

Storm-proof designs not new

Meanwhile, it was a sweep for UP Diliman architecture students in the school design category.

Taking a cue from the aerodynamic design of aircraft hangars, Mervin Afan, Corenne Martin and Rafael Khemlani garnered first place for their “Taklob” school building. 

The semi-cylindrical structure is open and airy during clear-weather days, and readily converts into a tent-like bunkhouse which doubles as an evacuation center during storms.

Corenne Martin explained that the aerodynamic hangar design was not new, but they appropriated its features to make schoolhouses more storm-proof.

“[The design] has been around for the longest time. But we added various elements to make it more appropriate for a school setting,” she said.

Both Martin’s group and the trio of Jose Ruel Fabia, Maria Angela Luna and Kurt Cleon Yu agree that the architecture present in the national university had influenced their design decisions. Fabia, Luna and Yu won second place for their school building design entitled “Talukab”, which can be constructed using materials taken from container vans.

“We want to bring back that sense of innovation that we see in some of the buildings in Diliman,” said group member Kurt Yu.

READ: New classrooms in Yolanda-hit areas ready by end-2014

In third place is the “Incubator” design by Marvin Patrick Arellano, Colleen Ann Ong and Tricia Nadine Pulido, also from UP Diliman. The “Incubator” consists of parallel school buildings set on a raised platform, with rounded roofs that are designed to deflect typhoon-force winds.

University of Northern Philippines architecture students Emmanuell Ornos, Everette Rabbon, and Christopher De Vera garnered fourth place for their schoolhouse design, which resembles a boat due to support beams that buttress the building against strong winds.

Fifth-place winners Gino Diongzon and Michael Lagason of the University of the Assumption emphasized the need to build disaster-proof school buildings that are also cost-effective.

“We know how expensive construction can be, so we premised our design on cost-effective building methods,” Lagason said in Filipino.

Diongzon and Lagason’s raised single-story schoolhouse design features reinforced concrete roofing, collapsible walls which enable the building to convert into a spacious evacuation hall during storms, and modular desks that can be arranged to become beds.

House design category first place winner Lara Therese Cruz said the Build Forward contest made students think about creating disaster-resilient spaces.

“You have to work towards climate-adaptive design because if you don’t adapt, we’ll only suffer every time we get hit by storms and floods,” Cruz said.

(READ: Calls for action as world faces fork in climate road

The Build Forward contest design entries were reviewed by Mr. Joselito F. Santos of Ortigas & Co., Arch. Bong Recio of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, Philippine Star columnist Arch. Paulo Alcazaren, and 3 other architects representing some of the leading design firms in the united States and Canada.

All finalists for both the house and school design categories received trophies and cash prizes.  – Rappler.com 

Toby Roca is a Rappler intern. 

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