Says An Bermejo, principal architect and BAAD Studio partner: "The boulders, flowing water, and plants are meant to have a calming effect. The concrete structure is slowly revealed as one approaches it. When one finally enters the dark space of the interior, pupils adjust to the sudden absence of abundant light and slowly appreciate on how raw the state of the building is." Text from BluPrint's 'Design Better' book. Image from BAAD Studio


2 PH projects shortlisted in World Architecture Festival 2018

BAAD's Sunken Shrine in Bacolor and blocher's Santa Elena Nature Condos in Laguna secure slots for WAF 2018

  • June 27, 2018

BAAD Studio‘s The Sunken Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes of Cabetican in Bacolor, Pampanga and blocher partners’ Santa Elena Nature Condos in Laguna secure slots in the World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2018’s shortlist among the 536 projects from 81 countries across the world.

The Sunken Shrine project is shortlisted for the Civic – Future Project category, while the Nature Condos is shortlisted for the Residential – Future Project category.

READ MORE: Manila Zoo, Pasig River, and 23 more PH places re-envisioned

The Sunken Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes of Cabetican

by BAAD Studio

If you have been to, or at least seen in photographs of the Sunken Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes of Cabetican in Bacolor, Pampanga, restoration would be the first idea to come up. The then-seven-storey all-concrete shrine was buried by ash from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, so devotees need to shuffle through the meter-high openings  by crouching or crawling. Besides this, the shrine often floods during the rainy season—making it the breeding ground for mosquitoes, and unsafe for the children.

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Interiors of The Sunken Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes of Cabetican, Bacolor, Philippines. Image from BAAD Studio

Despite the many inconveniences, BAAD Studio intended to conserve, instead of restore, the existing natural qualities of the ruin, the site, and its history. The parishioners seem to like the idea as well. Design Better’s “Sunken but Unsinkable” is BAAD Studio’s redevelopment plan for the Cabetican shrine retains the church’s raw and unpretentious architecture, and its demands of all who enter the fabric. Their design keeps the interior as simple as possible, incorporates a proper drainage system, creates a discreet opening near the highest part of the ceiling for passive cooling, and uses raw materials that evoke the beauty of the province.

The team believes that preserving the shrine as a ruin symbolizes the duality of life and strength of faith, hope, and love—and of good architecture.

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READ MORE: The sunken Cabetican Shrine in Pampanga is unsinkable in spirit

Santa Elena Nature Condos

by blocher partners

The ensemble of four luxury residential buildings designed by German architectural firm blocher partners is designed to rise in a scenic area in Laguna, south of metropolitan Manila. The Santa Elena Nature Condos consists of 18 to 24 “garden storeys” set against a backdrop of forests, lakes, lagoons and the Mount Makiling.

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Santa Elena Nature Condos in Laguna, Philippines. Image from blocher partners

blocher partners describes the project: “Like organic green structures, the twin buildings – with a total of 146 apartments – seem to grow right out of the landscape. Irregular balustrades resembling rocky ledges divide the verticals and at the same time provide shade. The apartments are surrounded on all sides by generous balconies that look like gardens. Vine-covered stainless steel nets and ample planting zones not only serve to preserve the views between individual apartments, but above all have a positive impact on the climate and a cooling effect as well.

“A rooftop bar and a fitness area on the Skydeck, as well as a restaurant, a spa, social halls, a private cinema and a kindergarten on the ground floor, complete the common spaces. With their design, the architects are realizing their concept of a countryside villa transposed into two high-rise towers: a vertical concept for urban living. Technical details, like rainwater storage, grey water usage, and automatic irrigation of the balconies, contribute to a sustainable design.”


The World Architecture Festival 2018 will be held in Amsterdam this November, when the shortlisted teams will be invited to present their designs to a panel of more than 100 international judges. Finalists will move on to present to the 2018 Super Jury to determine the winners for the 2018 World Building of the Year, Future Project of the Year and Landscape of the Year.

READ MORE: WAF has a student competition that the PH already won