Every architect tasked to design a mountain or a hill property that’s sympathetic to its setting faces the same obstacle: how to come to terms with the peak itself—the rock, the elevation, the climate, the slope, the vista. Regardless of the inevitable impulse to triumph over topography by building at the crest, taking up a more modest accommodation can sometimes be a better path to achieving domestic bliss in the clouds.
Consider the arresting Cabin 2 designed and built in just five months by the Camper and Cabin‘s owner and a St. Louis University Baguio Architecture graduate, Dennis Canonizado. The property offers a sweeping 360-degree view of both mountains and sea. The owner wanted an unobstructed view of the mountains and farmlands, so he opted for a panoramic frameless glass. Cabin 2 is one of the three accommodations that Camper and Cabin offers that are nestled at the foothills of Mount Batulao. Building something during the pandemic was no easy feat. The owner comments, “There were a lot of setbacks—from the Taal explosion in January, which was immediately followed by a lockdown in March. However, all these did not hinder us from finishing what we’ve started.”
The structure of the accommodations follows the natural forms of the landscape, designed so that the natural terrain remains largely undisturbed. Its unique terrain and elevation allow guests to embrace the fresh mountain breeze and fantastic weather practically all year round. It is unfrequented, thus offering a sense of exclusivity. The location makes it a perfect getaway from climbing, hiking, and biking trips. The architectural footprint of the property captures the spirit of the surroundings, and the property was positioned to maximize the surrounding mountain views from the cabin. The owner explains, “It was a conscious decision to come up with a design which looks different from a typical Filipino rest house. Cabin 2 was actually not part of the original plan (it was just the airstream and Cabin 1 initially). Still, during the construction, I felt that the expansive view fronting Cabin 2 is something people should enjoy, So I decided to build a modern glass cabin that offers a panoramic view of Nasugbu’s rolling farmland terrain with Mount Talamitan, Mount Pico de Loro, and Mount Cayluya as a backdrop.”
Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture, known for being adaptable and sustainable, is one of the owner’s inspirations in building the cabin. Consistent with Frank Lloyd Wright’s concept of building structures that harmonize their inhabitants with the environment, the cabins’ interior instantly connects to the mountain landscape outside. Another influence was Le Corbisier’s clean geometric forms, and efficient open spaces also served as design inspiration. Lastly, the owner says that Tadao Ando, who is known for concrete texture and creative use of natural light and structure, greatly influenced the architecture and interiors of the cabins. The owner says, “Our intention was also to merge the structure with the surrounding environment. The use of the same materials to its underfoot and overhead gives the space a sense of unity. More so, the integration of wood and natural materials, the natural lights freely pouring into the space, the clean lines and neutral colors—all these instantly connects the interior of the cabin to the mountain landscape outside.”
The interplay of timeless mid-century modern and natural finish of the walls lends a refined feel to Cabin 2’s interiors. Some architectural elements such as the wood planks and other wood details were salvaged from century-old homes, and schools give an immediate patina and depth. The interior design is a mix of two styles—Scandinavian and the traditional and minimalist elegance of the Japanese. Ugu Bigyan home accents, the owner’s Le Corbusier LC4 cowhide chaise lounge, George Nelson Platform Bench, Crocodile leather carpet, and Celestron Astro Master Telescope establish luxurious touch to the interiors.
With the present-day changes in the global tourism landscape, a staycation is seen as the primary way people will travel in the coming years. Camper and Cabin aims to curate an immersive experience with nature through their beautifully-designed and environmentally sustainable accommodations that can be considered architectural showpieces.