For Vianca Soleil, slow living means a return to her Filipino roots after years of working internationally as an interior designer. “Soleil” means “sun” in French, and Vianca’s approach to designing her island home blends a touch of the refined simplicity of the sunny Provençal style with the Philippines’ tropical vibrancy.
Unna was conceptualized to grow out of the seaside landscape. Vianca accomplished the skillful feat of designing a basic structure as an expression of an exceptionally precise aesthetic, referencing tradition and modern minimalistic tastes. While elegance in design is generally equated with luxury and expense, Vianca de-centers the aesthetic of elegance in Unna, trading metropolitan extravagance for provincial essentiality. The ongoing project began two years ago, and Vianca plans to eventually share Unna with others who want to experience the island way of life.
Unna is located on Puro, Romblon, a small island surrounded by crystalline water and white sand beaches, which are home to a rich variety of marine life. In an area without roads or establishments, Vianca approached the project with an intuitive strategy: build the project with a team comprised of local craftsmen, using natural materials sourced within Romblon. This strategy revealed the vernacular architecture of the local culture, with Unna’s design based according to the team’s skills. Vianca drew the plans for the structure and enlisted the help of an architect to convert them into architectural blueprints. Emphasizing the fundamental nature of the design, she shares: “I wanted it shaped like a child’s drawing of a house. Hence, the basic shapes and triangular roofing.”
The humble hut is given an update by Vianca, who’ve drawn on the slow living aesthetic dotting the city of Romblon to fashion their sustainable materials to be utilized building the structure, this holiday season using coconut palm fronds as materials for the hanged hand-made wreaths placed in-front of the famous Unna.
Despite the scant recognition of vernacular knowledge in the field of Philippine architecture, the project uncovers some of its most beneficial aspects. “Slow living is an integral part of our vernacular architecture,” Vianca asserts. “It’s important for us to realize its value and make it part of the future.” She also notes how vernacular applications can serve daily needs with practicality and efficiency given the limitations of available resources.
For an in-depth description and closer photos of this beautiful Romblon retreat, click on the link to BluPrint’s latest e-mag anniversary vol. 3 issue.
Photos by Vianca Soleil