A modern twist for the ‘bahay kubo’

Meya Pauline Carlos
·2 min read

THE architect knew that the “bahay kubo” is typical for the Filipino concept of shared space and limited privacy, as a Filipino is friendly and very hospitable. With this, architect Ned Carlos designed the RUSI Main Building in Dumaguete City where everything had to be transparent with an open plan, so the use of glass as space dividers was unavoidable with fewer solid walls.

Transparent walls or windows were used only where air-conditioning was a necessity or security was a need. Sleek and modern grilled partitions were used instead.

The bahay kubo is built to give a welcome refuge in the rainy season and provides shade in the hot summer, thus normally it is built on stilts. The typical structure is raised with thick bamboo poles, one to two meters above the ground, depending on the area where the shelter is constructed, providing the inhabitants a safe shelter from wild animals, snakes and protecting them against torrential rains and floods.

Looking upfront without the roll-ups, the RUSI Main Building seemingly floats on these pillars or “stilts.” The large windows allow the use of natural lighting and the wide overhangs protect the interiors from direct sunlight.

A distinct characteristic of the bahay kubo is that it is constructed with natural materials which are very inexpensive or most freely available in the near surroundings; it can quickly be rebuilt or repaired, using simple tools, if it is damaged or destroyed by fire or natural disasters like a typhoon or an earthquake.

The concept of the RUSI Main Building revolves around the same concept. The design called for less painting and, therefore, cutting down the use of paint to the bare essentials. Also, the use of concrete without paint was designed for quick repair and maintenance as concrete is readily available even in the provinces; conventional concrete beams are used instead of the usual steel I-beams or post-tensioned beams for every span of 15 meters.

Also, an open steel raceway, designed like a suspended ceiling, snakes throughout the building for easy installation of additional wires, thereby eliminating visual eyesore that electrical works can cause.

“The RUSI Main building is one structure that is rooted in the ‘bahay kubo’ concept but projects a globally modern image,” said Carlos.