An Italian architect in the Philippines

When I came to the Philippines and co-founded Italpinas Design Corp. (IDC) with my partner, Jojo Leviste, we wanted to bring my design experience to emerging Philippine cities. These fast-growing cities have such robust potential, and are also a chance for elegant, environmentally friendly design to gain multiple footholds and influence the course of urbanization in the Philippines. 

IDC has been fortunate that our first projects were well received, including the Primavera Residences and Primavera City in Cagayan de Oro, and Miramonti Green Residences in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.  These are all vertical developments, featuring multiple floors of shopping areas, offices, and residences. 

Recently, we announced the Verona project, also in Cagayan de Oro.  Verona will also feature multi-use spaces and IDC’s distinctive design features, but in different dimensions to complement the site’s intimate, communal character. Street-front commercial spaces will be topped with walk-up residential units all along a protected walking and cycle path, which connects the whole stretch to the nearby mall and business district.  In designing Verona, we changed our format from high-rise to mid-rise style, and incorporated this into a setting more reminiscent of Brooklyn brownstones, or the terraced shophouses of Singapore.

In order to be ready to meet new opportunities, we at IDC have also considered the possibility of a further format debut, in the prospect of offering residential houses.  In fact, we are already preparing for this prospect in terms of research and development.  With our high-rise and vertical developments, IDC has succeeded by staying true to its design philosophies of elegant, environmentally friendly design, including efficiencies for energy savings, as elaborated by careful calibration of shading, airflow, and other passive-performance design features. If IDC were to offer a horizontal product, how would we translate this previous experience from high-rise to house?

Inspiration for the future

To address this next step, IDC will continue to embrace innovation, by taking new perspective on architectural design, community life, and the emerging city market, but I also draw inspiration from my past work.

One of my favorite design concepts has been a structure called “Silang House,”  which represents IDC’s characteristic design approaches, but presented in a house-and-lot format.  Coming from my experience in Estonia, and bringing my career to the Philippines, I knew the importance of responding dynamically to the local environment, and this design concept would demand the same.  The result, Silang House, is a tropical-modern structure designed with IDC’s characteristic green-design and elegant aesthetic.

Silang House features an open layout, which ensures free airflow.  Cross-ventilation is a major design element in this concept, which lowers the temperature of the living spaces without consuming electricity. 

As with IDC’s vertical projects, shading was carefully calibrated with the help of software, which modeled the angles struck by the rays of the sun at each hour of the day, according to the site’s precise latitude.  By designing according to this data, even small details such as the shape and dimensions of overhangs ensure that the living space is shielded from the day’s harshest sunlight, allowing shaded comfort in spite of large windows, which allow indirect natural light.  The open floor plan also allowed a seamless integration between indoor and outdoor space, which directly addresses the increased demand for fresh air, which was brought about by our shared experience of lockdowns, a demand that may persist, even as we exit the pandemic.

Needless to say, we were all extremely happy with the result, and the close dialogue achieved between the house’s function and its environment. This is both a strong foundation, and an encouragement for our potential expansion in other housing formats.  It bodes well for IDC’s position to continue research and development, for future projects, and the possibilities of horizontal development.

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