BUDJI+ROYAL orchestrates a natural symphony inside a home
Instead of physical demarcations (save for the bedroom levels which require privacy), the designers suggested zones, accomplished by contrasting finishes for the public and private areas.
February 13, 2019
Written by Angel Yulo
Photographed by Ed Simon of Studio 100
“We wanted to see the sky all the time,” the young mother told us. This is how she and her husband envisioned the experience of their home when they bought a 406-square-meter lot on a hilly estate between Metro Manila and Tagaytay. A few years after, they met BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Design, the design team who welcomed not only the sky but also the terrain into their living spaces.
The stacked blocks that make up house sit on a grassy hill made even lusher by the dense landscaping along its perimeter wall. To visually expand the home interiors, principal architect Royal Pineda employed “a borrowing of spaces.” Central to the house and the first space you encounter upon entering is the 4.8-meter-tall void and lofty staircase connecting the social areas on different levels: living, dining, and family rooms.
“I made sure to minimize demarcations because we have a small footprint,” says Pineda. “Also, elevation differences are part of the experience of a rolling lot. What we did is create multiple vantage points.” Because the void opens up to other spaces, they feel much bigger than they should. The dining area and kitchen occupy the mezzanine overlooking the living room from the back while the family area a half-floor above overlooks the same room from the side. In effect, portals for exhaust and natural light are communal for the spaces sharing the void. An expansive view of the outdoors also amplifies the sense of scale.
Another request by the client was a pocket of green on every level of the house, which aligned with Pineda’s ethos of naturalism. Although every floor would have a balcony or patio, the designers made sure residents need not step out to say: I’m in the garden. Screen doors allow the residents to keep the glass doors open. “The idea is you have a real-time, all-the-time garden in here,” says Pineda. “If there is so much to view in a location, we would like to celebrate that as many times as we can.”
The lower portion of the house is barely touched by opacity—sliding doors and windows the size of doors flush the void with natural light. Air channels on all sides of the house at varying levels, a key to keeping the house fresh in the heat of summer. Fenestrations all around the structure catch the amihan (northeastern monsoon winds) and habagat (southwestern monsoon winds) that breeze through the estate. The wind rushes through the alleys between the second storey of the house and its perimeter wall, creating a gust coming through the kitchen screen door at the rear of the mezzanine.
The glazing also maximizes the vistas. Morning sun filtered by the bamboo outside and a Yucca tree inside cast lacy shadows—some swaying, some steady—on the east-facing living room through the tall windows. On days she stays home, the homeowner often stays in the living room. She sits on the sofa by windows with her youngest who loves to watch birds fly across the trees or the rain wash the hills. The designers enveloped the space with an ever-changing landscape.
Edges of the lot blur as the perimeter and retainer walls burst with tobacco (wild banana plants) and bamboo. From inside, it’s as if the natural terrain outside is part of the home’s landscaping. Principal designer Budji Layug made sure the outdoors never left the residents’ view by opting for sheer curtains throughout the living spaces. The client’s request for a palette of blues and greens were addressed by the constant view of the outdoors. Layug supplemented that with large paintings of the same hues throughout the house.
Layug selected tile and stone finishes for most of the ground floor and wood in the more intimate spaces. One sees the transition at the foot of the staircase, where the tiles stop and the wood steps begin.
The private quarters upstairs have their share of the outdoors too—tree canopies seen through sliding glass windows. “At 2.1 meters high, they’re practically doors, not windows. That’s what the supplier said,” says the man of the house. Above the bedrooms, another celebration of nature awaits the residents. While sunrise is the highlight of the day in the lower levels of the house, sunset is best viewed on the roof deck. With a building height limitation of 9 meters in the estate, the residents are assured that no roofs will ever block their sprawling vista. Sharing a love for nature with BUDJI+ROYAL, the homeowners got what they wanted—a portrait of the sky—and so much more.