A breath of fresh air, sun-kissed skin, a soft breeze, bird song, the scent of a flower—these are luxuries and they’re free. Vacations in places where we are embraced by nature are highlights for most of us. So if we can have these luxuries in our homes, then why not? It is possible to have a home that brings the natural world in even in a megalopolis like Manila.
Snug Balconies for Staycation Feels
The Healing Power of Indoor Gardens
Shared here are works of four different architects. These may be aspirational for most of us but if we are to re-imagine our homes, it is good to expose ourselves to inspirational builds to see what’s possible. If you are in the planning phase of the construction of a new home, dream big.
Clinton Cole: The Jungle House in Sydney
Wow! Just wow! That’s how I would describe the Jungle House. This self-contained building in the inner city suburb of Sydney is a new way of living. This home definitely goes beyond just a breath of fresh air and sun-kissed skin.
The Jungle House is “a direct response to the ‘Climate Emergency’ facing our our country and our planet,” as stated by CplusC Architectural Workshop headed by Clinton Cole.
Architecture that is not only beautiful: an architecture which generates and stores power; an architecture which harvests and recycles water; an architecture which produces fruit, vegetables, fish and eggs; an architecture which recycles and reuses the waste it produces. Architecture that nourishes the mind, body and soul. Architecture where landscape, food, nature, garden, environment, energy, waste, water and beauty exist symbiotically. (CplusC Architectural Workshop)
How does a house like this sound from day to night? If you want to see Architect Cole show the house and its features, watch this ASMR video. The video gives the added dimension of sound, with just the house speaking, the people in it, and its environs.
Eizo Shiina: Hayashii
Hayashii is a garden that blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors or what Architect Eizo Shiina calls a “borderless garden”.
The house on the outside looks so modest and partially hidden by trees. But when you open the front door, a garden in the middle of the property just welcomes you right in. It has something so magical and welcoming about it, like an oasis after the chaos of the city streets.
The central courtyard is planted with trees and is accessible from any part of the house. The dining area has gardens on both sides!
This surprising sight is like a central courtyard of a riad in Morocco that usually has plants, a pool and fountain in the center of the structure. The interior garden has ancient roots in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean architecture.
Vo Trong Nghia: A House for a Family of Five in Vietnam
VTN Architects specializes in green architecture and bamboo architecture. Similar to the Jungle House, this home has a lot of plants on what little space there is on the ground floor (the property is just 250 sqm), a roof garden with fruit trees and vegetables, and a self-circulating system which aims to bring down utility bills to zero.
The architectural design has a lot of spaces for the three boys to play in. It has a pool, a swing on the first floor (or the second floor as it is known in the Philippines), and a terrace for hanging out. The mother proudly said that in these times when children are usually focused on gadgets, her boys spend more time playing, swimming, reading, listening to or making music, or gardening.
The thick stone walls keep the house cool during the summer. The greenery is all over so you can see the plants from all the rooms. Sunlight and moonlight come in through the gaps in the concrete slabs above, and the play of light can be seen on the walls and floors inside the house.
Rene Gonzalez: Prairie Residence
Talk about aspirational, this has got to be it. This luxury pad costs a cool $30 million.
Designed by Architect Rene Gonzalez for his CEO friend Hany Boutros, this property seems like a cathedral in the middle of a frenetic city because of its soaring ceilings where ceilings and walls never touch because there are always skylights in the gaps. It is also very quiet inside the house despite its location in a busy area of the city. However, the feel of the house is decidedly sensuous and not monastic.
The architect built the house on stilts for the pragmatic reason of rising sea levels. This gives the added beauty of seeing the tree canopy through the glass walls. Although there was only one big banyan tree on the open site before the build, the architect brought in lots of trees and designed the house to weave the trees and the pavilions of the house. Architect Gonzalez said,
We were really interested in creating a condition where water, the landscape and the house would really be interlaced in a seamless way, where you could really flow from inside to outside, and feel like you were in the trees.
If you want to see the full episode and not just the trailer above, go to Netflix and watch The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, Season 2 Part A, USA.
Challenges for Homes that Bring Nature In
For homes in small properties located in the middle of busy urban areas, privacy is a challenge. However, you can see from The Jungle House that to have an external skin and a space between that and the outer walls of the living space can definitely solve this issue.
Second, not only privacy but also security could be a problem. We would not want a member of the Akyat Bahay gang to enter our homes.The materials that will be used on the facade and the design of the home can address the issue of security.
Insects are a third challenge. How do you keep mosquitoes (and other insects) out of your home especially if you have a pool, a pond, or any body of water. For water elements, you can make sure that these are not stagnant. For ponds, having fish can be an advantage. They do eat mosquito larvae, which is a good thing because dengue is a health problem in the country. You can also have plants in your gardens that are natural mosquito repellents.
Additionally, you can also help the fish and the plants with the mosquito (and other insect) problem by painting your walls with Boysen Bug-Off. Click on this link to know more about it.
An Invitation to Filipino Architects and Interior Designers
If you have a project that you would like us to write about here in Let it B, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss it further. We’d love to feature work from our own local architects and interior designers.