July 19, 2011
Like I said in previous post, there’s something in Cebu’s air that breeds amazing modernist architects. This is the house of Francis Noel, an architect. I always like seeing how architects live in their own house.
At first glance, it looks like just another “modern” house. But after talking with Francis and hearing him explain his concept, I was impressed. I’ve seen too many pa-modern effect homes by builders/owners who know very little about tropical architecture; homes that end up becoming one heat trap. If you’re shopping for an architect you must visit one of his/her projects at 1pm. Check to see how the house handles the heat. Francis’ house is a successful example, not just in modern style but also in terms of the functions of a tropical house.
The site posed a major challenge. Lot size is 416 sqm with a frontage of 22 metres. The shape is irregular (trapezoidal or triangular) with no sides equal. The street front had an inclination of more than 15 degrees from left to right. The highest elevation of the lot reached 9 metres above the subdivision road.
See how Francis Noel solved the challenge and came up with a beautiful and functional Filipino modern home for his family.
“The context of the site, logistics and the drive to create a Filipino Modern abode permitted me to design the house in multi-levels in a boxy form. Cubism is somewhat referred to the “ bahay kubo” ( where I always gets my inspiration). Wanting to be globally modern but yet distinctively Filipino, slim sleek flat roofs with deep eaves suggest modernity and contemporariness. The building envelope with stained wall timber cladding over massive concrete walls suggests Asian sensibility features. Wide glass window openings and doors permits daylight into the house and maximize views for most of the rooms.” — Francis Noel
“With the rugged terrain being offered, I took on the challenge to navigate our house during the planning stage through the rugged contour lines to prevent excessive earthworks and costs. This type of approach really saved us a lot of money. Difference in levels and elevations gave me an opportunity to create spaces that are visually distinctive without the use of too much walls and partitions but instead using user-friendly treads and risers (300mmx 145mm) in accordance to the Disability Act Law or Batas Pambansa 344.” — Francis Noel
Francis tried to employ as much green technology or procedures in designing and building his house. He also took a lot of inspiration from the bahay kubo and bahay na bato. Visible from this picture are the opened slats under the eaves. This allows hot air to escape from between the ceiling and the roof. Wide eaves supported by poles (or like a tungkod) gives enough shade from direct sun. I was particularly enamored by the wooden screen.
Sun baffles or timber screens protects the interior rooms thru the dramatic introduction of shadows on the floors. With the introductions of layered walls and berm, thermal comfort for the house is generally achieved.
“Another challenge was to orient the house towards the view (the blue water of Mactan Island) looming in the horizon (East- NorthEast) and the afternoon sun which is at the West-Southwest. Having to build the house within the height limit of 9 meters from the highest lot elevations ( SHHA Guidelines ), the house had to have an extensive digging of 3.50 meters or more down from the original thus created a Berm.” — Francis Noel
I asked Francis what made this house green architecture. “Through the use of recycled materials “finger joint lumber” or “retaso”, proper planning and site utilization, celestial windows and timber screens for optimum visual and thermal comfort, landscaping, rainwater harvesting with the used of cistern tanks. Also by designing the house relative to human scale (floor height elevations), adherence to disability law, passive cooling thru the introduction of cross ventilation (side walls with window openings), long deep eaves to create shadows and depth, white walls and ceiling for natural room illumination. We also employed CFL bulbs and other environmental friendly materials for optimum savings in electricity and adherence towards the principle of sustainable development.” — Francis Noel
Perhaps one of the greater things that makes this house about “green living” is that Francis built his home office within the property — no need to drive a car to go to work. Talk about reducing your carbon footprint. And just beside his home office is a separate unit for his parents’ in law. I love that about Filipino families.
Read more about the work of Francisco Noel Architects.