Lemon Rosemary Chicken

 

 

I’ve been meaning to share this Lemon Rosemary Chicken recipe for a while but never got around to organizing myself to take photos while prepping. I swear, I do not know how recipe bloggers do it – cook and take pictures at the same time.

This is one of the easiest dishes you can ever make. Prep time is like 5 minutes, as long as your chicken is thawed. And cooking time is less than an hour. My kids love this. It is a family favourite.

I found the recipe online when I was googling anything about rosemary. I recently succeeded in growing rosemary at home. The original recipe I found was here. But I tweaked it a bit.

My recipe does not have precise measurements (sorry). Here are the ingredients that you will need.

1 kilogram chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
2 to 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
juice of 1 whole lemon
2 to 4 tablespoons of Bertolli extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Optional – vegetables like carrots or potatoes

 

 

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Rosemary

 

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Garlic

 

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Lemon, rosemary and Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

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Marinade

 

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Season chicken thighs with salt. Arrange on a roasting dish.

3, Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together – olive oil, juice of one lemon, chopped rosemary sprigs, chopped garlic.

4. Pour all marinade on the chicken. Make sure all surfaces of the chicken pieces are wet with marinade, though they don’t have to be soaked or submerged in the olive oil.

5. Put chicken and mixture in the preheated oven. Leave for at least 40 minutes. Check if the insides are cooked. Or if you prefer to brown the chicken skin, leave on for an extra 8-10 minutes.

Optional:
Marinate the chicken for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator
Brown the chicken in a cast iron skillet before putting it in the oven

 

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It is an option to brown the chicken with marinade and salt/pepper in a cast iron frying pan before baking. This gives the skin more colour and flavour.

 

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I transferred the browned chicken and marinade mixture into a deeper baking dish and added some potatoes and carrots.

 

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And here’s what it looked like after 45 minutes.

 

This dish is Lily approved. Promise, next recipe will be more precise.

 

 

 

Why we need to support breastfeeding

 

 

Last week I took a break from my life — work deadlines, mommy duties, activities in my daughters’ school — and went to Naga with UNICEF. Once in a while I leave everything behind, focus my attention on UNICEF programs. I get to tell stories from the field and try to make a difference for many Filipino children and mothers. We kicked off Breastfeeding Month with a trip to Naga City where UNICEF showed me the different private and public initiatives to promote breastfeeding support in the workplace. I also got to participate in a forum discussion at the House of Representatives. There would have been a Senate appearance as well, however it overlapped with my Naga trip.

Here is a short video from our trip, showing how important it is to support breastfeeding moms, especially in the workplace.

 

 

With UNICEF, I participate in activities that promote maternal health, breastfeeding and nutrition (See my previous UNICEF activities here.) I give my time and lend my voice to UNICEF because I feel like we are in this awful cycle of poor nutrition and poverty and it will get worse if we don’t do anything. We will be a nation of adults raised on instant noodles, supposedly-“fortified” powdered stuff, fake flavouring, with newborns fed formula milk. I’m not talking about a chi-chi organic lifestyle change – though I love organic weekend markets. I’m talking about going to the poorest and farthest provinces, and seeing families feed their kids these artificial things. I’ve seen children getting sick with diarrhoea because of contaminated water and dirty bottles because a poor mother would rather buy formula milk than feed her baby directly from her breast. In poor areas, diarrhoea can lead to death. My old driver used to borrow extra money so they could buy formula milk for their newborn, while I made heaven and earth move just so I could find a place to express my milk and bring it home to my baby. It just didn’t make sense.

I found an old post in 2008 where I quickly mentioned that I had a breast infection (mastitis). This was before I had met UNICEF and before they asked me to be their advocate. It shows how little I knew. I thought it was ok for hospitals to give glucose water in a cup. It’s not. And mommies, if you think you have mastitis, please see a doctor as soon as possible. Ask for an ultrasound if you think you have an infection.

Here are my tips for happy breastfeeding (from my 2008 post):

1. Get a pediatrician who advocates and believes in feeding from the breast. She will support you.
2. Ask for a lactation consultant at the hospital. You will need “instructions” in the beginning.
3. Tell the nursery NOT to give your baby formula milk or a bottle. If needed, they can CUP FEED your baby with glucose water. The baby will not starve (this applies to non-preemies). Edit: There is no need to give your baby glucose water. It is recommended that babies room in with their mothers in order to make breastfeeding easier from the moment of birth.
4. Read up on how to store milk or join breastfeeding clubs or forums online
5. Get a breast massage. It helps wonders. Your milk will flow like Niagara Falls.
6. Don’t get pressured into buying fancy electric breast pumps. You won’t know if you really need it until you are already breastfeeding. Wait a few weeks.

Since 2011, UNICEF has been supporting the Department of Health, local government units, and labor sector partners in the formal and informal economies to implement the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (RA 10028) and The Milk Code or Executive Order 51. These laws mandate that workplaces should be given an environment where breastfeeding moms are supported and empowered. This means, they should be given a space and be allowed paid breaks in order to breastfeed or express milk. This is good, considering we have one of the shortest maternity leaves in the region — only 2 months. Though a lot of moms may want to continue breastfeeding their babies even when they return to work, some of them just give up. Only 34% of children aged 0-6 monhts are exclusively breastfed in the Philippines.

 

Women need a supportive environment so they would continue to breastfeed. This isn’t just a beautiful mommy-baby bond. If all companies and establishments provided a supportive and comfortable environment for breastfeeding, babies will be healthier, moms will have less guilt about going back to work and they will be more productive. We will raise children who will more likely be able to finish their education and get better jobs. In the Philippines, only 34% of women exclusively breastfeed their babies up to 6 months. And the number drops significantly after the 6th month.

 

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When I was still breastfeeding my babies, there were no mommy-baby lounges in malls. So I would rely on fitting rooms in stores. K&Company is like family to me. I would spend a few minutes breastfeeding the babies in their beautiful fitting room. Sometimes, I would find myself overflowing and would just settle for a bathroom somewhere and pump. Now, most malls have lactation-friendly lounges, as they should.

 

Stella and me
And since we have no family here in the Philippines (only one, my BIL who is a priest), I have no back-up or support system except for househelp and my husband. I brought my babies to work with me. Lucky for me, my working conditions then were very comfortable. This was me getting ready for a shoot at Sofitel. And that’s my little Stelly belly wrapped in one of my scarves.

 

I breastfed all three of my babies. I didn’t have a structured work environment, i.e. no office, so this meant I was able to express milk (manual pump) anytime and anywhere. I carried a cooler packed with ice gels. During this time, malls didn’t have lactation rooms yet. I had to find ways and places where I could pump. Unfortunately most the pumping happened in bathroom cubicles. I also did not have maternity leaves. When I gave birth to Lily, I shot a TV commercial for a beauty product 7 days after giving birth. And I had to shoot Urban Zone 10 days after giving birth. I remember that day – it was an interview with Cheese Escudero and I couldn’t wait to get home. During Stella’s time, I had about three weeks worth of video packages done in advance so I was able to stay home. But I had to shoot a beauty product for the body (body soap) five weeks after giving birth. That’s when I discovered Pilates. So you see, as moms, whether you go to the office or not… you just try to make it all work.

Here is a video of a lactating working mom. Let me know if you can relate.

 

I have gone to many parts of the Philippines as an advocate of UNICEF and in my previous life as a journalist and balikbayan traveler. I have seen babies with severe acute malnutrition in Maguindanao amidst conflict, families displaced by Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental, communities trying to get back on their feet in Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan. Breastfeeding has the single largest potential impact on child mortality of any preventive intervention (i.e. vaccines, medicines). This means, if a newborn baby is given mother’s breastmilk in the first hour of life and only breastmilk until he/she is 6 months old, this baby will have a greater chance at survival and will be less likely to get sick. Now we have more evidence that exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months and complementary feeding up to two years old, can help prevent stunting in children. Stunted children are more prone to death and disease, have lower educational attainment, and reduced productivity as adults. The Philippines is one of the ten countries in the world with the most number of stunted children — 1 in every 3 Filipino children under 5 years of age is stunted. That’s an estimated 3.4 million children. These may all seem like just numbers, but I’ve seen what it’s like in real life.

 

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At the Naga Water District, where it is a breastfreeding-friendly workplace.

 

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Meeting the mothers of Barangay Panicuason, Naga. Photo by UNICEF2015/ACDimatatac

 

I’m sharing photos of the trip from UNICEF’s gallery. All photos by UNICEF2015/ACDimatactac.

 

I saw the smallest little infants at the NICU. It was good to see a public hospital with a strong commitment to breastfeeding. They counsel mothers on how to express milk if their preemie baby is too small and still in the NICU.

I saw the smallest little infants at the NICU. It was good to see a public hospital with a strong commitment to breastfeeding. They counsel mothers on how to express milk if their preemie baby is too small and still in the NICU.

With the doctors of the NICU at the Bicol Medical Center.

With the doctors of the NICU at the Bicol Medical Center.

Bicol Medical Center.

Bicol Medical Center.

At the Bicol Medical Center.

At the Bicol Medical Center.

The doctors of Bicol Medical Center showing me their storage for pasteurized breastmilk at the Human Milk Bank.

The doctors of Bicol Medical Center showing me their storage for pasteurized breastmilk at the Human Milk Bank.

Bicol Medical Center's commitment to breastfeeding. They also have an impressive human milk bank.

Bicol Medical Center’s commitment to breastfeeding. They also have an impressive human milk bank.

The Bicol Medical Center's maternity ward.

The Bicol Medical Center’s maternity ward.

A preemie, newly discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit of Bicol Medical Center. All the babies in NICU are given mothers' breastmilk only.

A preemie, newly discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit of Bicol Medical Center. All the babies in NICU are given mothers’ breastmilk only.

At Barangay Concepcion in Naga, with volunteer peer counsellors. They go on house to house visits to help encourage and coach new moms to breastfeed.

At Barangay Concepcion in Naga, with volunteer peer counsellors. They go on house to house visits to help encourage and coach new moms to breastfeed.

A home visit at Barangay Concepcion, Naga City. Mothers are also encouraged to feed their babies/toddlers real, whole foods like pechay, upo, papaya, malunggay, carrots, potatoes, banana, and other fruits and vegetables easily found in local markets or grown in backyards.

A home visit at Barangay Concepcion, Naga City. Mothers are also encouraged to feed their babies/toddlers real, whole foods like pechay, upo, papaya, malunggay, carrots, potatoes, banana, and other fruits and vegetables easily found in local markets or grown in backyards.

A volunteer peer counsellor visits a new mother in Barangay Concepcion. Mothers need a lot of support when breastfeeding - from family members and the community.

A volunteer peer counsellor visits a new mother in Barangay Concepcion. Mothers need a lot of support when breastfeeding – from family members and the community.

Barangay Panicuason Health Center's breastfeeding station.

Barangay Panicuason Health Center’s breastfeeding station.

Talking with the women of Barangay Panicuason.

Talking with the women of Barangay Panicuason.

At SM Naga Breastfeeding Station. SM has been supporting breastfeeding by providing breastfeeding rooms where mom can comfortably nurse their babies or pump/express milk. The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 or Republic Act 10028 mandates working mothers be given the space to breastfeed or express their milk, and should be allowed paid breaks (an extra 40 minutes a day) during which breastfeeding or expression of milk may be done.

At SM Naga Breastfeeding Station. SM has been supporting breastfeeding by providing breastfeeding rooms where mom can comfortably nurse their babies or pump/express milk. The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 or Republic Act 10028 mandates working mothers be given the space to breastfeed or express their milk, and should be allowed paid breaks (an extra 40 minutes a day) during which breastfeeding or expression of milk may be done.

Naga People's Mall (public market) is a breastfeeding-friendly place.

Naga People’s Mall (public market) is a breastfeeding-friendly place.

The logbook at the lactation room at Naga People's Mall (Public Market).

The logbook at the lactation room at Naga People’s Mall (Public Market).

At the Naga public market, officially known as the Naga People's Mall. I gave  brief talk to the community's breastfeeding and pregnant moms. I shared with them that I had chosen to exclusively breastfeed my babies the first 6 months and continue with complementary feeding after. I wanted them to know that this isn't just something we advocate for the poor and marginalised, that even women in large urban areas around the world choose to breastfeed because of the health and nutritious benefits.

At the Naga public market, officially known as the Naga People’s Mall. I gave brief talk to the community’s breastfeeding and pregnant moms. I shared with them that I had chosen to exclusively breastfeed my babies the first 6 months and continue with complementary feeding after. I wanted them to know that this isn’t just something we advocate for the poor and marginalised, that even women in large urban areas around the world choose to breastfeed because of the health and nutritious benefits.

At the Naga public market, officially known as the Naga People's Mall. Here volunteer peer counsellors share tips on how to breastfeed easily and the types of food babies 6 months and older should be eating. Instead of store-bought powdered cereals, babies 6 months and older should eat real and whole foods like pureed fruits and vegetables. They were also encouraged to plant backyard vegetable gardens.

At the Naga public market, officially known as the Naga People’s Mall. Here volunteer peer counsellors share tips on how to breastfeed easily and the types of food babies 6 months and older should be eating. Instead of store-bought powdered cereals, babies 6 months and older should eat real and whole foods like pureed fruits and vegetables. They were also encouraged to plant backyard vegetable gardens.

Naga Public Market's breastfeeding room.

Naga Public Market’s breastfeeding room.

The very proud proponent of Naga public market's breastfeeding room.

The very proud proponent of Naga public market’s breastfeeding room.

One of the breastfeeding moms at the Naga People's Mall (public market) breastfeeding room. They also have a small refrigerator for moms who have to express milk while working.

One of the breastfeeding moms at the Naga People’s Mall (public market) breastfeeding room. They also have a small refrigerator for moms who have to express milk while working.

At the Naga Water District. They have set up a breastfeeding room for lactating mom employees and guests. The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 or Republic Act 10028 mandates working mothers be given the space to breastfeed or express their milk, and should be allowed paid breaks (an extra 40 minutes a day) during which breastfeeding or expression of milk may be done.

At the Naga Water District. They have set up a breastfeeding room for lactating mom employees and guests. The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 or Republic Act 10028 mandates working mothers be given the space to breastfeed or express their milk, and should be allowed paid breaks (an extra 40 minutes a day) during which breastfeeding or expression of milk may be done.

Our first stop was a meeting with Naga City Mayor John Bongat. The city has been an early supporter of breastfeeding and maternal/infant nutrition.

Our first stop was a meeting with Naga City Mayor John Bongat. The city has been an early supporter of breastfeeding and maternal/infant nutrition.

Naga City Mayor John Bongat at the city hall's breastfeeding centre.

Naga City Mayor John Bongat at the city hall’s breastfeeding centre.

The part of my UNICEF trips that I love the most. Meeting cute babies. This was at the beastfeeding centre at Naga City Hall.

The part of my UNICEF trips that I love the most. Meeting cute babies. This was at the beastfeeding centre at Naga City Hall.

 

Feel free to share your breastfeeding story in the comments below. I love hearing about them.

 

 

Neri & Hu

 

 

 

I first met Lyndon Neri in mid-2014 in Cebu. We had both been invited by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce to participate in their Design Week celebration and Salon Talks. Lyndon spoke about his work as an architect, Professor Dan Boyarski of Carnegie Mellon spoke about design, and I moderated the discussions.

Lyndon is one half of the extremely talented and celebrated Shanghai-based architectural firm Neri & Hu, together with his wife Rossana Hu. Born in the Philippines, educated in the United States, and now living and working out of China, Lyndon considers himself a citizen of the world. He is of Chinese ethnicity and his family’s roots are in Cebu, where his parents still reside. He was actually born in Ozamis.

Lyndon received his Master of Architecture at Harvard University and his Bachelor of Architecture at UC Berkeley. Rossana received her Master of Architecture and Urban Planning at Princeton University and her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at UC Berkeley. They are also designing products for brands including BD Barcelona Design, Classicon, Gandia Blasco, JIA, LEMA, Meritalia, MOOOI, Parachilna, Stellar Works, and neri&hu.

 


At Maison et Objet Asia 2015, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu were one of the keynote speakers and were awarded 2015 Designer of the Year.

 


Lyndon and Rossana talked about their work as architect and designers based in Shanghai. They draw inspiration from everyday life on the streets of Shanghai, “We like to stroll, observe and examine objects, furniture and buildings. We are sensitive to the crossing of different design disciplines.”

 


Our paths crossed again this year at Maison et Objet Asia in Singapore last March. Neri & Hu Design and Research Office was awarded 2015 Designer of the Year. “In our quest for the Maison&Objet Asia Designer of the Year, we seek out designers who represent the essence of Asian culture, Asian roots and with an international approach to their works. Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu have distinguished themselves through their work and also with numerous international accolades. They exemplify the very qualities we seek,” said Mr Philippe Brocart, Managing Director, Maison&Objet.

 

Here is my conversation with Lyndon and Rossana of Neri & Hu. We talked about restoring buildings, being an Asian designer, working with your spouse, having Filipino roots, and Lyndon’s deep sense of spirituality.

DAPHNE: Congratulations on winning Designer of the Year. How significant is that to you both?

LYNDON NERI: I think all awards, no matter where it’s coming from is definitely an honour. It’s a humbling experience. We didn’t expect it. Some people thought that maybe we would have predicted this given that we were inducted into the hall of fame and that we won the Wallpaper Designer of the Year, but to be honest with you Rossana and I never really look into all the award categories and say, “This year, I think we’re going to win this or not,” I think we spend a lot of time focusing on our projects. So it was a pleasant surprise, but more importantly definitely a humbling experience for the two of us.

 

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The ZISHA tea project “We removed the traditional dragons and snakes from the Chinese teacup to magnify its original natural material: purple clay from the Jiangsu Province.”

 

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The MING COLLECTION and UTILITY COLLECTION for Stellar Works. The Ming Chair is a play around the iconic chair. The design was tweaked to make it stackable and painted it imperial red, whereas traditionally the wood is left dark. The Utility Collection is a combination of “old style” leather and simple metal curves. This line of chairs is an ode to the industrial boom of the 1920’s, a transitional era that saw decorative furniture take on a more utilitarian aesthetic.

 

DAPHNE: A lot of Asian designers, and I’m sure Western designers as well, look up to you as the new breed of designers. How does it feel to sort of set the standard for the new direction of design?

ROSSANA HU: We are not quite conscious of how others perceive us. In some ways we almost have to not think about it or not look at it. Like Lyndon said, it’s more important for us that each project is better than the last. And for us, focusing on the project will just be better for our own work and our own growth. What we want to spend time to nurture and focus on is just that the project will hold its own integrity. That we continue to grow as designers. Whether or not the position is good within a larger context, or how people see us, we try our best to pay back through lectures or participating in various events. Particularly there has been a lot of different mentorship that we are participating in like the Lexus Award Mentorship. So these things bring us directly in contact w a lot of young designers And that’s what we like to do.

LYNDON: I’m more stressed out whether the work we are doing now is done well. So often times some of the projects that we are doing now, some people might not understand or people might feel frustrated that we have changed direction. But I think we have to be true to ourselves. If we are trying to do things to please the general public or a particular group or set of designers or set of media thinkers, then if we are not true to ourselves, then eventually it would not be significant.

 


JIAN collection for Gandia Blasco. This hybrid collection of outdoor furniture was inspired by the Chinese character Jian, meaning “in between”. This poetic living space seems to float between time and space.

 


The Camper Showroom, Shanghai. “Drawing inspiration from the surrounding urban condition, the Camper Showroom / Office in Shanghai recalls both the spatial qualities and the vibrant activities characteristic of life in a typical Shanghai alleyway, called a “nong-tang.” The exterior lane extends into the showroom creating a physical sectional cut of the new house and a gathering space used for presentations and talks.” Source: Neri & Hu website

 

DAPHNE: Lyndon, you were born in the Philippines. How Filipino are you?

LYNDON: That’s a very good question. I was born in Ozamis. Then I left when I was five years old for Cebu. For my first 15 years, I was practically a Cebuano. I speak the dialect and I went to a Chinese school. So within that context…. That’s a very good question. When I went to America, after many years, some people ask, “How American are you?” Then we went to China, after 10 years, I’m very much Chinese, obviously, and they ask, “How Chinese are you?” So there’s really no sense of home for me, as much as I like for all of them to be my home. But in many ways, that’s a blessing in disguise. Because I do believe that the problem we are solving today is a global one, and not a national one. However having said that, I then become very sympathetic with things that are very much Spanish or Latin-based just because I’m from the Philippines. And often times people say, “My goodness you are not so Chinese – you know, the way you express yourself it has that La Bamba spirit.” And of course when they find out I’m from the Philippines, they go “I got it. Ok.” And yet when I go to the Philippines sometimes they say, “Why are you so serious? Why do you think too much? Why are you such a conceptual thinker? Too much like an American.” So there’s always that tension. And it depends. Some of my Filipino friends would probably say, “He’s very Pinoy” some of my Chinese friends will say I’m very Chinese. Some of my American friends will say I’m very American. And vice-versa. I don’t know. I think I am who I am. And people will have to judge who I am. I’d like to think I’m a person of the world.

 


With Lyndon at the 2014 Cebu Business Month hosted by Cebu Chamber of Commerce. Lyndon was invited to give a talk by Cebu-based designer Debbie Palao, head of the Creative Industries Committee of Cebu.

 

DAPHNE: Can the Philippines claim you as a “Filipino” designer?

LYNDON: I would hope so. It’s very interesting. I’d  love to work in the Philippines. I’d love to have projects there. But you know there’s a saying that says you’re never loved by your own country until you’ve proven yourself elsewhere. And there’s some truth to that. It’s not just the Philippines, it’s everywhere. The towns that great thinkers are from are often times are ignored until they made something out of themselves.

 


Design RepublicCommune is located in the center of Shanghai. It is  as a design hub, a gathering space for designers and design patrons alike to admire, ponder, exchange, learn, and consume. The building was once the Police Headquarters built by the British in the 1910s. The project took somewhat of a “surgical approach” to renovation. “First, gently removing the decaying wood and plaster, then carefully restoring the still vibrant red brick work, while grafting on skin, joints, and organs onto parts that needed reconstruction. And finally with the attachment of a brand new appendage which, like a prosthetic, enables the existing building to perform new functions, the nearly abandoned building begins its life again.” Photographed by Pedro Pegenaute. Source: Neri & Hu website

 


Xi’an Westin Museum Hotel. “In an ancient capital of China, Neri&Hu Design Research Office’s design of the Westin in Xi’an emerges as a tribute to both the city’s importance as a hub of burgeoning growth in the region, as well as its long standing status as a cradle of Chinese civilization. With 3,100 years of history embedded in the layers of the city, Xi’an is not merely a formidable backdrop to the building itself but has provided the architects with design inspirations that inextricably link its past to its present and future.” Photographed by Pedro Pegenaute. Source: Neri & Hu website

 

DAPHNE: At your talk last year in Cebu, where I moderated, you talked about your involvement in preserving and working with older buildings and preserving the character of the city. I realized that that’s what we need in the Philippines. You were living in Shanghai, a city that was rapidly destroying traces of the past. Currently in Manila that’s been happening and there seems no end to it. And it seems the only conservation that people know is museum-fication. Very little in terms of the way you guys do it — stripping a building but keeping the integrity. How did you, a global architectural firm, influence the mindset of cities, governments and people.

LYNDON: I think the problem is there’s money involved, unfortunately. With everything that deals with projects in general, there’s money involved. The natural instinct to make fast money is to tear down the old and start new and to have greater FAR (floor area ratio), and to build taller buildings, to sell as many. But we know in the long term, that’s not going to do a country justice, nor a city good. Because once you erase part of the history, a lot of what keeps the spirit of that particular city will disappear and we have to think far, instead of be short-sighted about the whole process. How do you convert people? It’s going to be very hard. People need to have a certain conviction. Developers need to understand that in life, it’s not just about making more and more and more. Sure they’re going to be making more and more. But they need to understand that there is meaning in purpose in the short life they live in this world. They have to decide whether they want to give back or they want to continually take. For developers who want to continually take and take, no matter how much we convince them it’s not going to get through to their head. Because to them its all about the P&L (profit and loss), it’s all about that final number. And I’m not even going to try to convince them and say, “If you have good design, you will make more money.” Because in reality, maybe you wont. But what you get back is something that’s intangible. What you get back is something will give people joy and certain happiness that this world can never give.

 


The Waterhouse Boutique Hotel at South Bund in Shanghai, China. “We created this hotel in an abandoned warehouse. Enhancing the natural original materials was our way of emphasising the importance of preserving traces of the past in urban projects.” Photo by Pedro Pegenaute

 

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Lyndon placed a very Filipino antique furniture — a gallinera bench — in the lobby of The Waterhouse. Photo by Pedro Pegenaute

 

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Neri&Hu was also responsible for the design of the hotel’s interior, which is expressed through both a blurring and inversion of the interior and exterior, as well as between the public and private realms, creating a disorienting yet refreshing spatial experience for the hotel guest who longs for an unique five-star hospitality experience. Photo by Pedro Pegenaute. Source: Neri & Hu website

 

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Another example of the blurring and inversion of the interior and exterior, as well as between the public and private realms. Photo by Derryck Menere

 

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The Waterhouse in South Bund, Shanghai. This was once an abandoned warehouse, adaptively re-used as a five-star boutique hotel.  Photo by Pedro Pegenaute

 

DAPHNE: Is there a point where a building is too late to be saved?

ROSSANA: Of course. It’s not like we believe that every building should be saved. If that’s the case, then there’s no progress. I think it’s about balancing what you keep. And even within one building, you don’t necessarily need to keep everything. So being able to accept that life is about fragments and these fragments – some have value some don’t, some are worth saving, worth keeping, some are not. You just have to cut them away and throw them away and put new stuff in it in place of what used to be there. And that fragment of the past are ok in a city. And hopefully we build our future on our past. And that’s why we have to save some because otherwise there’s no memory of what happened in the past for our next generation to see.

LYNDON: But what’s also important, Daphne, is the fact that you just have to do good work. And you have to have a certain conviction in what you do. So you could preserve all you want. If you don’t do it with much conviction it is another form of Disneyfication. That’s what I call it. So it’s just another replica of another past. So it becomes a decorative exercise. Now, there are new buildings that are built by very good designers with good conviction. They add value to the city that we are in today. So I’m not all for progress at all (sic). In fact if there’s the right opportunity you need to build new buildings. However what we’re saying is that there’s a lot of good old buildings that could be re-used and have this new adaptive renaissance within its old structure.

 

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The Cluny House, a private residence in Singapore, shows Neri & Hu’s modern take on the Chinese courtyard house.

 

DAPHNE: You showed us a lot of your projects. Could you describe your own home?

LYNDON: Our home is constantly under renovation. We’re now on our third stage. We’re in an old house. Old lane house. We didn’t show a lot of images because we made a pact ten years ago that our house will be private. And so our children live in a house that is very much black and white with a lot of paintings and etchings by great masters. (Rossana: Furniture is everywhere.) And initially when they came with their friends, often times their friends always say “Wow the ceiling is so high” or “Wow this is a really strange looking house. And so when they were young, they were really conscious because they feel like their house is so different. Perhaps non-traditional. So they were really concerned. But my youngest son who is 12 now told me the other day in the car, “you know actually all my friends really find our house very interesting. It’s cavernous. It’s very unique so now all of a sudden there is a sense of pride. Is it crazy? A part of it is. And we are continually developing it. This last stage will probably be our last. We are renovating it right now. And it’s probably going to be the craziest addition.

ROSSANA: It’s very much like one of our projects where we took an old house, an old lane house. We sort of gutted the inside. So the interior feeling is quite modern. But you can’t see it from the outside. So it’s like a lot of our projects.

LYNDON: So from the outside it’s this three-storey lanehouse and nextdoor is one and it grows ivy all over it. So in the spring time there is no resemblance of a house. The whole project is dematerialized. It’s this green thing. Absolutely gorgeous but hard to maintain, beyond belief, because there’s a lot of bugs that crawl into the wall. And for a certain conviction there’s a lot of pain. But what we’re trying to do, is now they’ve grown older, so after this last phase we might actually show part of it to the public.

DAPHNE: And who is designing that?

ROSSANA: Whoever has time. That’s why it’s never done because we never have time. And its our last priority. Clients are more important.

LYNDON: We do have time. The little time we have in our house, we argue like mad. We agree on certain things, while other things, it’s hard for us to agree on.

DAPHNE: You work together, you’re a team, you’re collaborators. But who does what and who’s the boss?

LYNDON: Oh she’s the boss. Good question.

ROSSANA: We overlap on many things.

LYNDON: What’s needed at the moment will have to be taken care of. She writes a lot more. Although I also write. Because every project needs to have a definition in order for the core to be done properly. I tend to sketch more maybe. But she does sketch as well. So there’s a lot of – both of us come up with the basic concept. I might be spending more time on the schematic part of a project, she comes in on the design development side of the project. But obviously in the end when we come in and we do the detail, we do it together.

 


Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu. Photo by Andrew Rowat

 

DAPHNE: Lyndon you seem to be always grateful. There is a spirituality about you that you are not embarrassed to show. What is that all about?

LYNDON: Uhm, what is clear to me is that what is given to us today… I know for a fact that what is given to both of us to day, is from God. Without a question. I was fortunate enough at a young age to be introduced by my father to have a relationship with God. So I read the Bible every day. And that to me is the most important thing in my life. Every thing we do today is not us. (Lyndon’s voice starts to break. He pauses.) Sorry, I’m just a little emotional. But there are a lot more people more talented than we are. There’s a lot more people more connected than we are. There’s a lot more people more educated than we are. But I think Rosanna and I are given a platform. And this platform is a responsibility given to us by God. I think it’s easy for us, in the height of adulation and when we’re given a certain accord to start saying maybe we work very hard, we went to the right school, or maybe we were talented, or we maybe because we made the right strategy. Seriously at the end they all came from Him. And if we don’t acknowledge Him, while these blessings are being poured to us, then we’ve really missed the point. That to me is the end. And it goes without saying I think people often forget this, and when I add that aspect of this story, sometimes people say, “Lyndon you’re always asking, you know. You’ve worked hard enough, you’ve done this.” Well that all is true but there’s also a lot of people who work just as hard. There are people who are also talented or more. People who went to the right school. But Rosanna and I have been given this platform. And we have to remember that this platform is a blessing that has been given to us. And we have to be able to give back. Because if we don’t God will use other people to do it.

 

 

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