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In the 21st century, functional objects can also be as beautiful as artwork. In the current times, it’s not enough that a structure looks beautiful and distinctive. It must also be filled with context and can last through time while still keeping in touch with the location’s culture. Platform 21 Architecture is one of those firms that practice this design approach through the production of eye-catching contemporary projects. Platform 21 is the result of shortening the phrase, “Platform for 21st Century Architecture”. In its name alone, the firm presents itself as a stage for those contemporary structures that stand for the present. 

Platform 21 Creative office is structured to define it’s firm’s sleek and copious architectural notes.

“We design in respect to the limits set by a project’s context. The site, its immediate vicinity, its history, its cultural or environmental significance must be taken into consideration. Function must rise to the level of art and impact the lives of its inhabitants beyond necessities.”

Platform21 Architecture is led by partners Philip Mendoza and Agatha Rodis who have both experienced working under a plethora of different architecture and planning firms. Under their guidance, Platform21 Architecture has completed both commercial and residential projects like Bahay Sibi.

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 Inspired by the bahay kubo’s sibi (the extension of the roof over a window), Bahay Sibi is a contemporary home that’s most noticeable for its collection of sun-shades which all control the amount of daylight and allows natural ventilation while still providing the homeowner’s with adequate privacy and security. Overall, the residence is also a great example of sustainable architecture in 21st century Philippines.

“Architecture and design must contribute to an inclusive and sustainable built environment. It is not enough to incorporate nature in our works but to practice sustainable solutions as well. The use of breeze and daylight as design elements are just basic tools for a sustainable dwelling unit, and even the smallest buildings can utilize the use of solar energy for power and rainwater for irrigation.”

Bahay Sibi also presents elements that bind and unify the structure to its site.

“It can be in a form of a detail that ties different elements, or an in-between space that transitions the outdoor area to the indoor space. It is important to bring the environment in, and the structure out.”

Platform21’s team aren’t people who primarily take inspiration from other people but zooming out to the big names in architecture, Platform21’s designs are sometimes influenced by the ideas of Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Peter Zumthor, and Leandro Locsin among many other names. All in all, these architects are professionals who pursued creative endeavors that were nothing less than mold-breaking and were artists who created new architectural languages with their work. But to create structures like Bahay Sibi that embrace the new and present refreshing designs, Platform21 takes on the project site, the history and culture unique to the Philippines, any product of the current times, and most of all, the client’s characters to the front of the design plan.

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“How time affects any matter, how material ages, a patina can inspire us.” an architectural piece by Platform21 also isn’t uniquely the firm’s if not inspired by the late architect Manosa.

“We would quote him any chance we get: “Architecture must be true to itself, its land, and its people”.

 The firm’s abilities aren’t only limited to homes like Bahay Sibi. Currently, the firm has a special project, a research involving ferry terminals and how these can utilize Pasig river as an alternative to Manila’s ever congested roads.

Plaza Mexico Ferry Station Exterior Shot along Pasig River
Plaza Mexico Ferry Station Exterior Frontage Shot

“This is very timely as there are plans to build fly-overs on our river. Alternative public transportation is the key to solve traffic congestion, not more roads to be filled with private cars. We proposed a bigger structure to replace the existing Plaza Mexico Ferry Station outside Intramuros. The design of the terminal is a contemporary work of the 21st century while being respectful of the heritage of its vicinity.”

In the present times, it is simply irresponsible to be unaware of society’s problems. May it be politically, environmentally, or in any other issue, professional practices must stand to be on a side that brings positive change towards the community and its surroundings.  

“Our practice, in general, is shifting its attention to the impact of environmental changes to our built environment and the loss and disregard of our built-heritage. We need to focus our attention on both nature and culture.”

Photo courtesy of Platform 21 Architecture