Buensalido’s polygon house is the result of out-of-the-box thinking
Through a design development process developed by the firm, Buensalido+Architects shapes the Polygon House into a shell that fits its owners like a glove
August 16, 2018
Written by Miguel R. Llona
Photographed by Ed Simon
“Process should always have a higher value than output,” says Jason Buensalido of Buensalido+Architects. It’s a basic lesson he feels some designers neglect in their desire to create iconic architecture, which results in structures unrelated to the lifestyles of their users. Buensalido’s mantra carries more weight for residential projects, given how the shell should adapt to the residing family, and not the other way around.
Now Buensalido might be called out for the gimmicky form of his Polygon House, which looks like something he doodled while in a meeting. Parallelograms and other geometric shapes zigzag through the façade, forming an arrow pointing to the horizon. It looks like a gigantic trophy. But Buensalido says the polygonal form is the fruit of his attempt to develop a new way of designing houses. “The way a space is used varies from person to person, so how come most shells we see are either cubes, rectilinear, or orthogonal?” he asks. “So instead of proposing the typical box, we proposed for this project a polygon to perfectly encapsulate the client’s lifestyle.”
The clients are entrepreneurs with three children, with the wife a lover of fashion and the husband a car enthusiast. The two interests, which both connote movement and fluidity, compelled Buensalido to design a free-flowing layout that he felt a box wouldn’t be able to capture. He calls his process for the project, “polygonal thinking.” The numerous sides, he believes, open up different solutions and ways of thinking: “Over the millennia, there’s a certain expectation of what houses should look like, which I think prevents us from evolving and exploring other avenues for improvement.”
Buensalido kickstarted the design process by studying the voids or spaces in which the users would live and move. The house would then take form by wrapping or encapsulating these voids. The family loves having relatives and friends over for weekends, assuring the house would be a flurry of activity. The challenge was squeezing in a six-car garage, swimming pool, entertainment area, and guest rooms within the 304-square meter lot. Three cubes representing each floor were stacked, their planar surfaces broken down into a series of smaller polygons. These polygons now make it easier for the shell to adjust and adapt to the void, as it allowed the volume to be “folded” into the shape dictated by how the spaces within will be used.
It sounds needlessly complicated, but the process, Buensalido avers, was necessary to maximize space. As if the small lot wasn’t trouble enough, the village forbids cantilevers that extend more than half a meter, so wide eaves were out. Buensalido circumvented this by pushing some of the polygons inward to create canopies that do their part in shading portions of the interiors, while still maintaining a large house footprint. This is most evident in the house’s east wall, which inclines inward, creating a small eave that doesn’t peek over the property line. A lower ground floor accommodates the six-car garage, entertainment area and swimming pool.
Buensalido’s “polygonal process” resulted in an unconventional final form for the house many would find illegible, so he had architectural frames installed to organize the individual polygons into an exterior that suggests movement. Where the interiors are concerned, the process created practical and aesthetically pleasing spaces for its users. By breaking down the volumes into a series of polygons, the team designated solid and transparent portions for the cladding depending on the clients’s requests. Balconies that don’t jut out of the volume were created.
“Just because a house’s form differs from what you expect doesn’t mean it doesn’t function as one. The shell has less importance than the void,” says Buensalido. What he’s saying isn’t new—understanding the client’s personality and lifestyle to shape his house is what all architects are expected to do, but sometimes dismiss. The Polygon House does well to remind us that in everything we do, the whys and wherefores should always guide the whats.
Architect – Buensalido+Architects (Jason Buensalido, Cholo Ramirez)
Structural Engineer – Gruppo Struktura (Noel Guinto)
Sanitary, Plumbing, Electrical Engineer – RS Gutierrez Engineering Design & Consultancy (Ramil Gutierrez, Joseph Flores)